Greek challenge hits TA’s Serb bid

Telekom Austria’s (TA) efforts to acquire a majority of Serbia’s state-owned telecommunications company have suffered a significant throwback.The country’s federal Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society Jasna Matic confirmed reports that the government has been in talks with Greek firm OTE over the purchase of a 20 per cent share in Telekom Srbija.TA was being given the best chances by analysts to snatch a 51 per cent share in the firm before today’s (Weds) revelation that the Serbian government planned to sell 20 per cent of it individually. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, Egyptian company Orascom Telecom and France Telecom also signalled interest in buying the 51 per cent stake in Telekom Srbija.Matic further stressed that the government planned to possibly hold onto its share in Telekom Srbija to ensure it retained the right to veto decisive decisions.TA caused some controversy in Serbia recently by announcing it was also interested in a 75 per cent share of Kosovan mobile services company PTK. Most Serbian leaders do not regard neighbouring Kosovo as a free and independent country.TA’s earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) declined year on year by 14.2 per cent to 300.5 million Euros in the first six months of this year. Turnover declined by 1.9 per cent to 1.169 billion Euros in the same period.