* New govt to take over in the middle of Sept
* Telekom has market cap of 840 mln euros
(Updates with the sale on hold, SDH quote)
By Marja Novak
LJUBLJANA, Sept 2 The privatisation of
Slovenia's largest telecom operator Telekom has been
put on hold, pending approval by the incoming centre-left
government, government investment firm SDH told Reuters on
SDH, which is coordinating the Telekom sale, confirmed a
report in daily newspaper Finance that the sale could be
delayed. Privatisation is seen as a key element in Slovenia's
drive to consolidate public finances after it narrowly avoided
an international bailout for its banks in December.
"In line with opinions of legal and financial advisers, the
SDH believes that a clear standpoint and support from the new
government is needed before the sale of Telekom can continue,"
SDH said in a statement prepared for Reuters.
Telekom is the largest of 15 firms the outgoing government
slated for privatisation last year. Only two have been sold so
far. Telekom's sale process started in April and the outgoing
government had hoped to finalise it by the end of the year.
But law professor Miro Cerar, who became prime minister last
week after his centre-left Party of Miro Cerar (SMC) won a snap
general election in July, has been sending conflicting signals
about the sale of state assets.
He said he was against selling strategically important firms
like Telekom. But he also said he would not stop
the privatisation if that would hurt Slovenia's credibility.
Cerar will take over after parliament approves his cabinet,
which is expected in the middle of September.
His SMC party is due to sign a coalition agreement with
pensioners' party Desus and the centre-left Social Democrats
(SD) later this week, both of which are reluctant about
privatisation in general.
According to local media, a draft coalition agreement
includes the possibility of separating Telekom's services and
infrastructure before the sale, with the infrastructure arm
remaining in state hands.
Analysts say that would halve the price of Telekom, which
has a market capitalisation of 840 billion euros ($1.10
trillion) and was expected to be sold for about one billion
The government and state-owned firms are selling a total of
72.75 percent of Telekom, with the rest of the company already
in the hands of private investors.
"I hope the government will not divide Telekom as in that
case it will probably not find a buyer at all. However, I expect
that Telekom will be sold as a whole company, also due to the
pressure from Brussels," said Jure Vrhunec, a trader at
Sources close to the deal told Reuters in July telecom firms
Deutsche Telekom and Turkcell and
investment companies CVC, Cinven, Providence
and Apax could be interested in purchasing Telekom.
Telekom shares closed 1.83 percent lower at 128.50 euros on
Tuesday while the blue-chip SBI index gained 0.23
(1 US dollar = 0.7623 euro)
(Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and)