The privatisation committee of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) says it will sell a 65% stake in the region’s incumbent operator Telekom Srpske to Telekom Srbija, after the Serbian incumbent submitted the highest bid of EUR646 million (USD860 million). Telekom Srbija comprehensively outbid the EUR467 million tabled by Telekom Austria, the only other company to have applied by the 20 November deadline. The RS Communications Minister Nedeljko Cubrilovic said he was disappointed to receive just two firm applications after eleven international companies had shown an interest, including Magyar Telekom of Hungary, Russia’s Sistema Telecom, Elisa Communications of Finland, Iceland’s Matav Madarska Novator, Telenor of Norway, Valiva of Switzerland and Planetsky of Cyprus. He was no doubt placated, however, by a winning bid that was more than 50% higher than the auction’s minimum starting price of EUR400 million.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Telekom Srpske was established in December 1996 when the state-run post and telecoms incumbent of RS was split into separate entities for telecoms and postal services. It offers fixed line services from its headquarters in Banja Luka and had around 300,000 lines in service and 22,000 internet subscribers by the end of 2005 according to the regulator. The telco’s mobile division ‘Mobi’s’ was founded and launched its first GSM-900 services in 1999. Unlike its parent company, Mobi’s has networks covering the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina and offer coverage to over 90% of the population; it had 585,202 mobile users by the end of June 2006, giving it a market share of 35%.