UPDATE 1-Slovakia to sell shares in telecoms company

Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:59am EST

* Majority owner Deutsche Telekom not raising stake

* Slovaks see IPO within nine months (Adds details, peer comparison)

By Jan Lopatka

PRAGUE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Slovak government said it plans to float its 49 percent stake in fixed and mobile networks operator Slovak Telekom later this year after majority owner Deutsche Telekom gave its consent.

The Slovak government has been in talks about selling the stake with Deutsche Telekom, which has the right of first refusal but has so far decided against taking full control of its Slovak subsidiary.

"Deutsche Telekom agreed to facilitate a process in which the Slovak government could potentially sell their stake to a third party or initiate an IPO," Deutsche spokesman Andreas Fuchs said.

Slovakia's centre-left government is looking for cash to finance its spending, including changes to the national health insurance system.

"Now advisers and investment banks will be selected, and the state can sell its stake through an initial public offering within nine months," minister Tomas Malatinsky said in a statement.

The Economy Ministry, which announced the share sale plan on Friday, did not say on which market the initial public offering would take place. Bratislava has a tiny stock market.

The sale would add to a string of transactions involving central European telecoms assets, following Telefonica's sale of its Czech unit and Deutsche acquisitions in the Czech Republic and elsewhere.

Slovak Telekom had a 39.4 percent market share in the country of 5.5 million in 2012, a market with 121 percent mobile penetration.

The Slovak market is increasingly competitive with the arrival of a fourth mobile operator in a fourth-generation mobile licence auction there in January.

Regional peers are trading at 10.5 forward 12-month price/earnings ratio, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Slovak Telekom had sales of 837.4 million euros and net profit of 62 million euros in 2012, the last full year data available.

Equity, including retained profits and reserve funds stood at 1.6 billion euros according to the firm's 2012 balance sheet. It had 380.7 million euros in debt.

On Monday, Deutsche Telekom said it would pay 800 million euros for full control of its T-Mobile Czech Republic unit, as it builds an integrated structure of mobile-phone networks and landlines across Europe.

Last November, Deutsche Telekom purchased GTS Central Europe for 546 million. GTS owns and operates a fibre optic and data centre network throughout the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Czech financial group PPF bought Telefonica's 65.9 percent stake in its Czech operations in November for 2.47 billion euros. (Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen in Frankfurt; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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