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Slovak Telecom to become joint-stock company on January 1

The state-run fixed telephony monopoly, Slovak Telecom (ST), will be transformed into a joint-stock company on January 1, 1999, according to a new cabinet proposal. Gabriel Palacka, the Minister of Transport, Post and Telecommunications, told a Bratislava investment conference on November 23 that a tender for a private capital entry into ST should take place in the first half of next year.

The ministry has already indicated that the ideal strategic partner for ST would be a telecommunications operator which would take a 25% stake in the company through an increase in the volume of share assets.

The head of the ministry's telecommunications section, Peter Haluš, said several significant European and Asian operators have shown public interest in investing into a transformed ST, including Deutsche Telecom, France Telecom, and the Korean companies Samsung and Daewoo.

Halus added that time is of the essence in ST's transformation because the company's monopoly is set to expire in 2003. The longer it takes to get a foreign investor, he said, the less time ST will have to modernise to meet the competition.

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