September 2, 2014 / 7:38 AM / in 3 years

Privatization of Slovenia's Telekom seen delayed: paper

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - The privatization of Slovenia’s largest telecoms provider Telekom (TLSG.LJ) will probably be delayed until the new government, which is likely to take over later in September, endorses the sale, daily paper Finance reported on Tuesday.

“All possible buyers are waiting for the new government to say whether the privatization will continue as planned,” said Finance, citing an unofficial source.

Law professor Miro Cerar, who became Slovenia’s prime minister last week after his Party of Miro Cerar (SMC) won a snap general election in July, will take over after parliament approves his cabinet, which is expected within two weeks.

His SMC party is due to sign a coalition agreement with pensioners’ party Desus and the center-left Social Democrats (SD) later this week, with Desus and SD both reluctant about privatization in general.

Cerar had said he was against the privatization of strategically-important firms like Telekom but would not stop the sale if that would hurt Slovenia’s credibility.

According to local media, the draft coalition agreement includes the possibility of dividing Telekom into services and infrastructure parts before the sale, so the infrastructure could remain in state hands.

Analysts said that would halve the price of Telekom which has a market capitalization of 855 million euros ($1.1 billion) and was expected to be sold for about one billion euros.

“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 Raiffeisen Bank.

Telekom is the largest of 15 firms that the outgoing center-left government slated for privatization last year. So far only two of those have been sold.

Privatization is seen as a key element in Slovenia’s drive to consolidate public finances after the country narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in December.

    Sources close to the deal told Reuters in July telecom firms Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) and Turkcell (TCELL.IS) and investment companies CVC CVC.UL, Cinven CINV.UL, Providence and Apax could be interested in purchasing Telekom.

    Government investment firm SDH, which is in charge of coordinating the sale of Telekom, gave no immediate comment but said in June it would invite investors to submit binding bids later this year.

    The outgoing government had expected to sell Telekom by the end of the year.

    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.

    (1 US dollar = 0.7618 euro)

    Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Mark Potter

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