Telekom Austria a serious bidder for Slovak Telecom
Telekom Austria is a promising investor in the privatization battle for Slovenské Telekomunikácie (ST), Slovakia's state telecom monopoly, said the chairman of the firm's board of directors, Rudolf Fischer, on January 12.
Fischer explained that Telekom Austria's interest in ST flowed from its expansion goals in central and eastern Europe, as well as the natural advantages of the territorial proximity and long-term contacts with Bratislava.
Although he would not discuss the concrete price ST migh fetch, Fischer said that the 17 billion crowns that Telecom Minister Jozef Macejko mentioned last week was not unreal.
Several companies have already submitted bids in the pre-qualification round for the ST privatization tender. Ian Logan of the London-based branch of Deutsche Bank, who is the advisor for the ST privatization, said there was no definite deadline for submitting applications during this phase of the tender. However, in February 2000, the process should be completed and all the application forms should have arrived.
Based on an advertisement that the Slovak Telecom Ministry published in the international press on November 25, the registration of bidders is open for operators that operate a telecom network with more than 2 million lines and with revenues of at least $400 per one connection in 1998.
The Telecom Ministry's idea is that a strategic partner should enter ST through an increase in the registered capital and acquire a 51% stake in the company. The ministry plans to retain control of 34%, while the remaining stake will be in the hands of the national privatization agency, the FNM. The FNM will in turn use its stake for the redemption of bonds it issued to citizens as a substitute for the coupon privatization canceled by the previous government of Vladimír Mečiar.
SCP Ružomberok sales hit 8 billion Sk in 1999
Pulp and paper mill SCP Ružomberok had a tough year in 1999, as the company's operations were hurt by the general economic slowdown and the drop in the prices of pulp and paper products during the first three quarters of the year.
Nevertheless, SCP made 2.3 billion Slovak crowns in capital investments last year to boost paper production. The most important investment project was the reconstruction of the paper mill, which lasted from February to July and cost 1.75 billion crowns.
The reconstruction helped SCP to weather the storm and actually increase production and sales from 7.55 billion crowns in 1998 to 8 billion crowns in 1999. Profits are expected to be lower in 1999 than the 172 million netted in 1998 because of the construction of the mill.
Compiled by Keith Miller
from Sita and Rueters