Turkish companies eye stake in Serbia's Telekom
* Expert teams to visit Serbia next week
* Turkish companies also eye investment in energy, infrastructure
* Government has not invited bids for Telekom yet
BELGRADE, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Turkish companies Sabanci Holding and Dogus Holding have expressed interest in buying a stake in Telekom Srbija, Serbian Trade and Telecommunications Minister Rasim Ljajic said in a statement on Monday.
With rising public debt and an inflating budget deficit, the government could use the money from a stake sale to kick start investment and spur growth.
For would-be buyers, Telekom Srbija represents a profitable company that accounts for 98 percent of the local landline market and around 55 percent of its mobile phone market with further mobile operations in Monetnegro and Bosnia.
Ljajic, who met executives from Sabanci Holding and Dogus Holding on Monday during a visit to Istanbul, said in an emailed statement that expert teams from the two companies would visit Serbia next week to discuss potential investment opportunities.
"Representatives of Dogus Holding and Sabanci Group expressed an interest in the privatisation of Telekom Srbija," the statement said.
The two companies also expressed interest in investing in infrastructure and energy projects, as well as in construction of hotels, shopping malls and housing buildings, it said.
The two companies were not available for immediate comment.
The Serbian government has not yet invited bids for Telekom Srbija, which in 2012 posted reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 47.422 billion Serbian dinars ($555.2 million) on revenue of 122.22 billion.
Belgrade media has reported that the government wants to sell Telekom and hopes to raise 2 billion euros ($2.67 billion) from the sale.
In May 2011, a Serbian finance ministry panel rejected a 1.1 billion euros ($1.6 billion) offer by Telekom Austria to buy a majority stake in Telekom Srbija, saying the price was too low.
Sabanci Holding operates mainly in banking, insurance, energy, retail and cement. Dogus Holding has invested in the banking and insurance sectors, the automotive industry, construction, media, tourism and services in Turkey. ($1 = 0.7500 euros) (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Additional reporting by Ceyda Cegalyan in Istanbul; editing by Jason Neely)
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