TA to buy rest of its Belarussian subsidiary

Telekom Austria (TA) is planning to buy the remaining 30 per cent interest in its Belarussian subsidiary Velcom at the end of 2010, according to today’s (Tues) edition of the newspaper WirtschaftsBlatt.According to the paper, the remaining interest might cost as much as 500 million Euros and that TA would buy it from Austrian industrialist Martin Schlaff and Syrian businessman Ead Samawi, each of whom has a 15 per cent interest.Velcom has losses of 211.9 million Euros in 2009 after profit of 75.1 million Euros in 2008 owing to poor business conditions and negative exchange rate developments, according to TA spokeswoman Elisabeth Mattes. She added TA had already borrowed the money it would need for the purchase.TA bought a UMTS license in Belarus for 9.5 million Euros a month ago that will expire in 2017.TA had reported last month that preliminary figures showed a decrease in turnover but an increase in operating earnings in 2009.Turnover declined by 7.1 per cent year on year to 4.802 billion Euros, but earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) rose by 185 per cent year on year to 343.9 million Euros.Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) increased to 1.749 billion Euros last year, and earnings per share rose to 0.22 Euro from minus 0.11 Euro in 2008. The firm’s net debt fell by 9.5 per cent year on year to 3.615 billion Euros.TA also announced last month that its supervisory board had approved the merger of its land-line and mobile-telephone divisions into a new firm to be called A1 Telekom Austria.TA said the merger would cost 80 million Euros but the cost would be offset by a resulting increase in cash-flow of 100 million Euros.The Austrian State has a 27.4 per cent stake in TA.