The Slovenia Times

Lone Bidder for Telekom Slovenije


The Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), which is managing the sale, has not disclosed the name of the bidder, but a number of reports suggested it was Cinven and not German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom, which had previously expressed interest.

"The deadline for binding bids for the majority stake in Telekom Slovenije passed today. The SSH received one binding bid," the holding said in a short statement.

Several reports in the Slovenian media indicated that the bid was submitted by Cinven, which had publicly confirmed its interest in the share and presented development plans earlier this year.

It is unclear why Deutsche Telekom, which had long been considered the most serious bidder, did not bid. The impact of its decision on the sale is also unclear, as no additional details could be obtained about the lone bid.

One Slovenian investment analyst labelled the development a major disappointment which will severely limit the SSH in negotiating the price.

"We will be able to say more about this once the price is published, but it would appear that the price is low," said Sašo Stanovnik of Alta Invest, who believes the development has to do with the political climate in the country.

It would appear "we have successfully driven away bidders and have done a good job of arguing about to do with the bride who almost nobody wants to marry any longer".

Stanovnik said the developments bordered on the tragicomic, but were a result of the political and economic realities facing Telekom Slovenija.

The Telekom share hit a seven-month low on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange today at EUR 128, but brokerage Alta had previously estimated it could realistically fetch around EUR 150 per share. That would value the whole company at EUR 980m.

Another analyst meanwhile told the daily Delo that the lack of wider interest may be an indication that Telekom is not doing as well as thought in Slovenia.

Igor Štemberger from the Ilirika brokerage confirmed that Cinven submitted the lone bid, with Ilirika acting as the fund's partner in Slovenia.

The London-based fund labels technology media and telecommunications as a key sector of interest for investment.

In the most recent deal involving a telecommunications company, Cinven acquired Gas Natural Fenosa Telecomunicaciones, a fibre-optic operator in Spain and Latin America, in June 2014.

Its telecoms portfolio also includes French cable operator Numericable Group, Dutch cable operator Ziggo and French satellite communications operator Eutelsat.

SSH announced it will provide more details about further steps in the process in the coming days.

The privatisation of Telekom Slovenije comes with enormous political implications in Slovenia.

Two previous efforts to privatise the company, in 2000 and 2008, came to a premature end following significant political pressure.

That it remains a hot political topic was evident from last week's dismissal of Defence Minister Janko Veber over a controversial order for the military intelligence service to analyse the security implications of the sale.

Veber is a member of the Social Democrats (SD), a junior coalition party which continues to harbour significant reservations about the sale due to what it says is vital telecommunications infrastructure.

Supporters of privatisation say this is because the party has political interests in Telekom Slovenije.

Government officials came out on Monday to call for transparency in the sale and the selection of a bidder with a clear development vision.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar said the state was looking for buyer that would be "interested in development", which also means additional jobs. Price will not be the lone criterion, he said.

Meanwhile, State Secretary Metod Dragonja, who is in charge of privatisation, said the state had its expectations and the bids needed to be within that scope. "The expectations are high, that's all I can say," said Dragonja.


More from Nekategorizirano