Clouds over third mobile operator tender

A RECENT TENDER for a third mobile operator in Slovakia may have run afoul of the law, according to the unsuccessful bidders.

Patrik Krauspe, a member of the selection commission that chose the Spanish Telefónica with a narrow majority, is also a manager with the DanubiaTel group, another telecom business. It is unusual for an industry player to have a role in deciding which company will be given a chance to compete on the market.

According to the Pravda daily, Telefónica's opponents in the tender have complained that Krauspe could have faced a conflict of interests, and also could have gained access to inside information about Telefónica's business plans.

"If any member of the commission has a conflict of interests, this is a reason for the competition to be re-opened," said Emília Sičáková-Beblavá of Transparency International Slovensko.

However, according to Milan Luknár, the head of the Slovak Telekomunikačný úrad (TÚ) telecoms authority, Krauspe signed a declaration saying he was not biased.

The Austrian Mobilkom, which ranked second in the tender for the mobile operator license, as well as the Slovak Penta group, which was a member of the third ranking B Four consortium, have doubts over the tender, and Penta is even considering legal steps in the matter.

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