The Serbian government received binding bids from six companies for a 58 per cent stake in state-owned Telekom Srbija, Reuters reported.
The government will enter negotiations with the preferred bidder, which it will select in the next two weeks.
However, the country’s minister for trade, tourism and telecommunications, Rasim Ljajic, said that if a single bid is not good enough, “we may decide to give up the privatisation”.
China Telecom could be one of the interested parties, a government official had previously said, but Ljajic said the bidders are mostly investment funds, without revealing any names.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said he expects an offer of €1.4 billion for a majority stake in the country’s largest operator.
Previously he was reported to have said that the government expects a “significantly higher offer” than the failed €1.1 billion bid it received from Telekom Austria in 2011 for a 51 per cent stake.
An earlier report said Telekom Austria was rumoured to be interested again, along with fellow European operator Deutsche Telekom, but both companies pulled out.
When putting the stake up for sale, Serbia’s privatisation agency stated only companies with assets of at least €2 billion or reported revenues of at least €500 million will be able to participate.
Telekom Srbija also owns a majority stake in Bosnia’s Telekom Srpske and controls Montenegro’s M:Tel.
According to GSMA Intelligence, the company has more than 4.8 million mobile connections, with Serbia set to hit more than 10.3 million total connections by the end of this year.