July 3, 2014 / 7:00 AM / in 4 years

Telekom Austria needs to explain big writedown -OIAG head

VIENNA, July 3 (Reuters) - Telekom Austria’s surprise 400 million euro ($546 million) writedown of its Bulgarian unit put it in “an extremely precarious situation”, the new chairman of state holding company OIAG, its biggest shareholder, told a magazine.

“I see an absolute need to clear up seamlessly how it could come to such a writedown from May to mid-June,” Siegfried Wolf told News magazine in an interview published on Thursday.

“Neither the capital market nor a shareholder likes this kind of bad surprise. This kind of thing cannot be allowed to happen again,” he said of the impairment charge that will push Telekom Austria to a near-certain 2014 loss.

Telekom Austria is being taken over by Carlos Slim’s America Movil, which, Wolf said, took the writedown news “very professionally”.

Wolf, named OIAG chairman last week, dismissed talk that his close business ties to Russia over decades would influence his judgement in handling partially state-owned companies like energy group OMV.

Russian energy giant Gazprom on Friday denied it was in talks to buy a stake in OMV from Abu Dhabi’s IPIC wealth fund, which has a syndicate agreement with OIAG that pools their OMV stakes.

“The OIAG stands for national economic policy and jobs for Austria, not for a sell-off,” Wolf said. “To all those who especially fear that Mr Wolf will sell everything to the Russians I can say: in such a case I would abstain.” ($1 = 0.7331 euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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