The Serbian government has signed an agreement with OTE to repurchase the 20% stake in fixed line operator Telekom Srbija held by the Greek company, for EUR380 million (USD491.5 million). The transaction is due to be completed by the end of Q1 2012, and will return the company to 100% state ownership.
The Serbian government has been looking for additional investors in Telekom Srbija since 2007, and hopes that the return to 100% ownership will ease the process. In 2010 a 51% stake in the telco was put up for sale, with the hope of raising at least EUR1.4 billion. In early 2011 several bidders entered offers for the stake, but all were turned down by Belgrade. Telekom Austria came closest to acquiring the company, offering EUR950 million, before increasing its bid to EUR1.1 billion when the first amount was rejected.
Shortly after the agreement with OTE was signed, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic announced that the government will not sell Telekom Srbija before the parliamentary elections in May. Instead, the telco’s fate will be decided by the government formed after the election.