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11. 05. 12. - 15:54

TA recovers as CEO rejects Pecik fears

Telekom Austria (TA) is back in the black.

The leading telecommunications sector leader – which is active across Europe – achieved a net profit of 46.9 million Euros in the first three months of 2012. TA sustained a loss of almost 80 million Euros in the same period of 2011.

The Vienna-based company presented the latest business performance news shortly before a general summit. Shareholders will gather later this month to debate various issues. Especially the most recent activities of investor Ronny Pecik and alleged corruption at TA in the early 2000s have caused controversy.

Pecik currently holds around 20 per cent of TA shares. The Austrian businessman wants to enter the supervisory board of the firm which has 9,000 employees in Austria and 7,000 abroad. Pecik – who previously cooperated with various Austrian and foreign investors – teamed up with a group of Egyptian businesspeople regarding his engagement in TA.

The investor is tipped to push for a further increase of his shares. Such a move could make him the major investor in TA. It would mean that he overtakes the Republic of Austria which owns a 28.4 per cent interest via ÖIAG, a holding headed by Markus Beyrer.

TA chief Hannes Ametsreiter rejected claims that he was at war with Pecik about leading TA. Ametsreiter told radio station Ö1 yesterday (Thurs) TA "appreciates the engagement of investors". The TA head stressed he welcomed the input of investors and signalised optimist concerning the communication between him and Pecik. Asked whether he felt any pressure by Pecik, Ametsreiter made aware of his valid contract as CEO of TA.

The TA boss also admitted having been overwhelmed by the "extent" of the reported corruptive dealings by former TA managers. He told Ö1 the current board’s plan was to end internal investigations of the various alleged frauds in the foreseeable future.

Corruptive elements at TA and the actions by ex-TA decision-makers, lobbyists and politicians were examined by a special investigative committee formed by parliament members (MPs) in the past weeks. The efforts of the panel headed by Greens MP Gabriela Moser are under close scrutiny. Sceptics think that the commission will fail to help prosecutors in any way in their ongoing examinations.

The anti-corruption committee recently closed the TA chapter. It currently focuses on disputed real estate deals and privatisations carried out when the People’s Party (ÖVP) formed a government coalition with the Freedom Party (FPÖ). The right-wing alliance existed for five years until 2005. It was followed by a partnership between the ÖVP and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ).

The ÖVP has been cooperating with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) since 2007. The SPÖ is headed by Werner Faymann since 2008. All of the established parties but the Greens were or still are entangled in fraudulent deals with businesspeople and lobbying agencies, according to public opinion polls.

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