* Shareholder Pecik says no plans for big change in stake
* Pecik gets seat on Telekom supervisory board, Sawiris
By Angelika Gruber and Michael Shields
VIENNA, May 23 Telekom Austria AG
shareholder Ronny Pecik won a supervisory board seat after
declaring he was content with his 21 percent stake and insisting
he was a loyal investor rather than the "locust" that media make
him out to be.
Pecik dismissed reports he was keen to build up and flip the
stake he built with ally Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, who
dropped out of the running for his own board seat at the last
minute on Wednesday.
Speculation has focused on Norway's Telenor and
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim as potential buyers of the stake
in Telekom Austria, which has around 23 million customers in
eight countries in central and eastern Europe.
"You see me as an incredible patriot. That's what I am,"
Pecik told fellow shareholders, tracing his career from the son
of Croatian guest workers to wealth and power as an Austrian
entrepreneur who has left his mark on half a dozen companies.
"The media like to see me as a locust. I would prefer to be
a butterfly. That is more colourful," he said.
Some shareholders asked sceptical questions about what Pecik
planned for the company, but the meeting elected him to an extra
seat on the supervisory board with over 73 percent in favour.
Pecik, 50, said Sawiris had pulled his candidacy for a board
seat because his business acumen was sorely needed in Egypt as
the country elects a new president and adopts sweeping reforms.
Asked whether Sawiris would seek later to join the board,
Pecik said: "He has to decide. His country needs him."
He rejected speculation that the abrupt turn of events
reflected a falling out between the partners who have spent 800
million euros ($1.01 billion) to build their stake.
NO QUICK CHANGES
Pecik described Telekom Austria as an undervalued pearl of
industry despite a wave of corruption scandals - which erupted
after he started building his stake - that has cost the group
millions and tarnished its image.
Shareholders heard a report from outside monitors on
Wednesday about a litany of irregularities linked to
consultants, acquisitions, property deals and bonus schemes. The
company is seeking to claw back 29 million euros related to
Pecik has made a fortune by building stakes with partners in
companies such as Oerlikon, Sulzer, Saurer, Ascom and VA Tech
before selling on at a profit.
But he distanced himself from reports that he was applying
this strategy to the Telekom Austria stake.
"I am not spreading these wild rumours," he told reporters
before the meeting began, adding: "I always said from the
beginning that I would like to stay a shareholder."
Slim's America Movil is on the hunt in Europe and
has offered around $3.5 billion to boost its stake in Dutch
telecoms company KPN NV to as much as 28 percent.
Pecik said he would refrain from pushing for a change in
top management at the group, saying he wanted first to get a
clear picture of the situation and would not "overnight" demand
that Chief Executive Hannes Ametsreiter and finance chief Hans
Tschuden be replaced, he told reporters.
He told the meeting he wanted to ensure the company had
enough management capacity to run the group effectively, which
could mean adding a third and possibly fourth top executive.
The telecoms company said in January that Pecik and Sawiris
had built a stake of just over 20 percent via shares and call
options. Austrian state holding company OeIAG is Telekom's
biggest investor, with a 28.4 percent stake.
Sawiris, who has also applied for a Telekom Austria board
seat, is one of Egypt's richest men. He built his fortune in the
mobile phone business and is now a liberal politician.
Telekom Austria shares closed down 2.2 percent at 7.737
euros, while the Stoxx European telecoms sector index
shed 2 percent.