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TELECOM REGULATOR TO MERGE WITH POSTAL OFFICE

Ministry gives up telecom shares

After much prodding, the Transport, Post and Telecommunications Ministry said it would transfer its stake in the telecom operator Slovak Telekom to the Economy Ministry. The European Commission has been criticizing the Transport Ministry for owning shares in the telecom firm and at the same time creating legislation for the telecom sector.

After much prodding, the Transport, Post and Telecommunications Ministry said it would transfer its stake in the telecom operator Slovak Telekom to the Economy Ministry. The European Commission has been criticizing the Transport Ministry for owning shares in the telecom firm and at the same time creating legislation for the telecom sector.

"The Slovak Telekom shares should be transferred to the Economy Ministry by June 30 at the latest," Marcela Bednárová from the Transport Ministry told The Slovak Spectator.

The document on transferring the shares is now being reviewed by the ministries and the cabinet should discuss it after June 1.

The Transport Ministry should transfer its 34-percent share package free of charge to the Economy Ministry, which will also hold shareholders' rights to the 15-percent telecom stake in the portfolio of the National Property Fund, the government privatisation agency.

As a result, the Economy Ministry will be responsible for the whole 49-percent stake in the telecom that is currently in state hands. The German telecommunications operator Deutsche Telekom acquired a majority 51-percent stake in Slovak Telekom in 2000. Slovak Telekom's share capital currently amounts to Sk26.03 billion (€768.72 million). The nominal value of the 34-percent stake is Sk8.85 billion (€216.36 million).

However, the European Commission has also criticized the lack of independence of the regulatory body of the Slovak telecom sector, the Telecommunications Office in its latest report on EU telecom markets, released on March 29.

The Telecommunications Office is financed by the Transport Ministry.

Bednárová of the Transport Ministry has explained that these objections will be dealt with by a merger of the regulatory body for the postal services and for electronic communications.

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