By Maria Kiselyova and Michael Shields
MOSCOW/VIENNA, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Vimpelcom is not interested in buying a stake in Telekom Austria , a source said on Friday, after a report that an investor group planned to sell shares to the Russian telecoms group.
Austrian magazine Format reported, without citing sources, that an investor group led by businessman Ronny Pecik planned to sell a stake it was building in Telekom Austria to Vimpelcom and its ally Turkcell .
It said Pecik and a group including Egyptian investor Naguib Sawiris, who is a Vimpelcom shareholder, had secured control of around 20 percent of Austria’s flagship telecoms group, part of which was parked with two banks in Switzerland.
“Pecik’s plan is the step-by-step sale on to Russia’s Vimpelcom,” the magazine said, adding the sales could take place over 2-5 five years. Turkcell would also get Telekom Austria shares under the plan, it said.
A source close to Vimpelcom told Reuters: “Vimpelcom is not interested in and is not holding talks with any of the parties about buying Telekom Austria shares”, adding mergers and acquisitions were not a priority for Vimpelcom, which was focused on integrating existing assets.
A spokeswoman for Vimpelcom would not comment on the report.
Telekom Austria were up 3.6 percent to 8.38 euros by 1030 GMT, outperforming a 1.5 percent firmer Stoxx 600 European telecoms index .
Its chief executive said his company was open for talks with investors but dodged more detailed questions about whether a particular party was quietly building a stake.
“New shareholders have come on board,” Hannes Ametsreiter told an investor conference. Asked whether he was worried about any particular investors building stakes, he said: “We do not want to discriminate against any shareholders”.
Austrian state holding company OeIAG has a 28.4 percent stake in Telekom Austria.
Pecik has declined to comment on reports about Telekom Austria, which have supported its share price. He has secured options via several companies to buy about 5.5 percent of Telekom Austria, the company said on Monday.
Citing unnamed sources, daily Wirtschaftsblatt reported this month Telekom Austria was preparing defences against a possible takeover bid and would hire Merrill Lynch for advice.
The paper said Telekom Austria could widen its share buyback programme or look for a “white knight” investor to fend off unwanted advances, with Spanish group Telefonica , Vimpelcom, Norwegian operator Telenor and Turkcell seen as likely contenders.