Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic has confirmed that the government is looking for an investment partner in Telekom Srbija and intends to privatise the telco through a public and transparent tender, news portal InSerbia reports. Looking to dispel fears of any potential mishandling of the sale through corruption, Vucic responded to a query on whether or not difficult-to-trace offshore companies would be allowed to enter bids, saying that participation would depend on the precise conditions of the sale, adding: ‘This tender will be transparent and open for anyone who will be able offer the best deal.’ The official went on, stressing that the privatisation council and the management of Telekom Srbija would determine the most suitable conditions for the tender. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that a sale of Telekom Srbija has been on the cards since 2008, but problems between shareholders (brought to a close in January 2012 when the government took full control of the company) and a lack of interest have hampered efforts to offload the telco.
More recently, when Vucic was made Prime Minister in early 2014, he set about introducing a raft of economic reforms, including the privatisation of a number of state-owned enterprises, Telekom amongst them. In an effort to minimise fears of a fire-sale of the telco, telecommunications and trade minister Rasim Ljajic confirmed in May 2014 that the government would take its time with the privatisation, noting that: ‘another unsuccessful attempt would have devastating economic consequences…Telekom will not be sold at any cost, because that would not solve our problems and also because we do not want to give up a company with real growth potential.’