The Serbian government is in the process of assessing preliminary bids for its 58 per cent stake in Telekom Srbija and will decide on which companies can progress to the next stage after 17 August.
Serbia initially set a 2 August deadline for companies to send non-binding offers for the stake, and the country’s telecoms minister Rasim Ljajic reportedly told the Tanjug news agency a government commission will now assess the bids received over the next two weeks, before inviting companies to make binding offers.
“If we are happy with the offers, we will launch the privatisation process, and if not, we will stop it,” he said.
Telekom Austria last week emerged as a potential interested party, as did fellow European operator Deutsche Telekom.
A Reuters source at the company said there were in fact more investment funds than telecoms operators expressing an interest. The source did not confirm or deny whether Telekom Austria had submitted a bid.
According to a seperate statement released by the prime minister’s office quoting the US ambassador to Serbia, four US firms have also expressed an interest in the stake.
Serbia’s privatisation agency said only companies with assets of at least €2 billion, or reported revenues of over €500 million, will be able to participate in the process.
The government, which is the operator’s single largest shareholder, last attempted to offload the operator in 2011, but rejected a €1.1 billion offer from Telekom Austria for being too low.
Serbia, which is seeking EU membership, is reportedly looking to now sell its stake to reach targets on a three year loan deal with the International Monetary Fund and stabilise the country’s finances.