Serbia and Telenor's landline talks deadlocked

BELGRADE Feb 19 (Reuters) - Talks in Serbia on Norwegian telecoms group Telenor TEL.OL leasing landline infrastructure from state-run Telekom Srbija, without which Telenor's cannot run the country's second landline system, remain deadlocked, Telenor said on Friday.

“We have placed a standard offer, usual for other European countries, but Telekom Srbija wants more favourable terms and that is unacceptable for us,” said Ana Davico, a Belgrade-based Telenor spokeswoman.

Serbia’s telecom regulator Ratel formally handed the nation’s second landline phone licence to Telenor on Friday, ending the decades-old monopoly of Telekom Srbija.

Telenor purchased the 10-year renewable licence for 1.05 million euros ($1.42 million) in January, in a tender that sought bidders with at least a 200 million euro turnover in 2009, and a million registered users. [nLDE60K1RY]

Although Ratel said Telenor’s offer was low, the government in Belgrade approved the deal and the Norwegian company pledged to lease Telekom Srbija’s infrastructure before developing its own fiber-optic high-bandwidth network, Davico said.

“We are now hoping that Ratel will act in line with its mandate and set the lease prices,” she said.

Telekom Srbija officials were not immediately available for comment. Telekom Srbija, 20 percent owned by Greece's OTE OTEr.AT, has had a monopoly in landline telephony until now.

Its mobile arm MTS is one of Serbia's three cellphone operators. Telenor purchased a local mobile operator, Mobtel, for 1.5 billion euros in 2006, while Mobilkom, the mobile telephony arm of Telekom Austria TELA.VI, paid 320 million euros for a third mobile licence.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Rupert Winchester)

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