State likely to keep 28 pct of Telekom Austria-paper

VIENNA, July 27 Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:23am EDT

VIENNA, July 27 (Reuters) - Austrian state holding company OIAG is likely to keep its 28.4 percent stake in Telekom Austria in a capital increase of up to 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), the OIAG's head told the Kurier newspaper.

"In all likelihood, yes," Rudolf Kemler said when asked by the Austrian newspaper if the OIAG would keep its stake. The OIAG had said until now only that it would keep a so-called blocking minority of 25 percent, enough to veto big decisions.

Telekom Austria, which is majority-owned by Carlos Slim's America Movil, plans a rights issue to give itself the flexibility to make acquisitions in central and eastern Europe while keeping its investment-grade credit rating.

"It is always good not to stand on the edge of a precipice when it comes to a capital increase, but rather to have a cushion so as not to be diluted to below a blocking minority," Kemler said in an interview published online late on Saturday.

Kemler added that Hannes Ametsreiter should remain chief executive of Telekom Austria, one of the few positions the OIAG has the power to decide in an agreement with America Movil that gives the Latin American telecoms giant most board appointments.

"His contract was renewed just a year ago. An early exit is not in question," Kemler said.

Kemler dismissed as "absolute nonsense" reports that Gazprom might buy a stake in oil and gas group OMV, of which the OIAG owns 31.5 percent and Abu Dhabi fund IPIC 24.9 percent, which they hold together in a shareholder pact.

He described the partnership with IPIC as "stable and solid" after the two parties resolved some differences of opinion in 2012. "That doesn't mean that now and again there couldn't be differences of opinion again on factual issues," he said.

Asked whether there was an internal candidate for CEO of OMV when Gerhard Roiss's contract runs out in two-and-a-half years, Kemler named Jaap Huijskes, head of exploration and production.

"I, personally, see him as a candidate. But that all has to still be examined very closely," Kemler said. ($1 = 0.7447 Euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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