Telekom Austria still keen on buying Orange's Yesss

VIENNA Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:22am EST

VIENNA Nov 18 (Reuters) - Telekom Austria wants to go ahead with a planned 390 million euro ($496 million) acquisition of budget operator Yesss despite cashflow issues, its chief executive told a newspaper.

The sale of Yesss is tied to the proposed takeover of its owner Orange Austria by Hutchison Whampoa in an agreed 1.3 billion euro deal that is being examined by European regulators.

The Hutchison-Orange merger, which would reduce fierce competition in Austria by cutting the number of operators from four to three, is dependent on Yesss being sold on to Telekom Austria.

"Yes, but the EU antitrust regulator must agree," Hannes Ametsreiter told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, in an interview published on Sunday, when asked whether he wanted to go ahead with the Yesss acquisition.

The two deals were agreed in February this year, but increasingly aggressive price wars in Austria during prolonged investigations by regulators in Brussels and Vienna have squeezed Telekom Austria's profit margins.

The company slashed its dividend for this year and next in September, saying that maintaining financial flexibility and protecting its investment-grade credit rating were higher priorities in its cash policy. ($1 = 0.7871 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Goodman)

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