TA rebuffed by Serbia

All eyes are on Telekom Austria (TA) after the Serbian government rejected a first takeover offer.TA announced last week it was ready to transfer “between 800 million and 950 million Euros” for a 51 per cent stake in Serbian telecommunications provider Telekom Srbija. No other firm handed in an official offer after rivals from France, Germany and Turkey eventually decided to exit the tender.The country’s government said today (Tues) that the Vienna-based company’s offer was “incomplete”, Serbian state leaders also announced that the sum offered by TA would not match its previously issued requirements. The Republic of Serbia initially said it wanted at least 1.4 billion Euros for the majority stake in the state-owned mobile services company.TA announced last week it would pour 450 million Euros into Telekom Srbija in the next three years if Serbia accepted its offer of between 800 million and 950 million Euros. Now the Austrian market leader – which has 21 million customers across Europe – has 15 days to “adapt” its offer.The Serbian government was initially set to reveal whether it accepted TA’s suggestion yesterday, but postponed the announcement by 24 hours at short notice. Serbia holds 80 per cent in Telekom Srbija.TA achieved a turnover of 4.65 billion Euros and earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) of 437.9 million Euros in 2010. The Republic of Austria holds 28.4 per cent in TA via ÖIAG, the Federal Industry-Holding Stock Corporation.One TA share was traded at 10.35 Euros at the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG) at 3pm today, up from 10.25 Euros on 22 March.Meanwhile, TA’s current executive board recently ordered staff to extensively check the company books after Austrian business press claimed that lobbyist Peter Hochegger raked in 40 million Euros for assignments issued by the firm’s previous leadership. TA CEO Hannes Ametsreiter pledged to do everything to clarify whether these payments were justified.Hochegger’s name has been mentioned in various other controversial lobbyism jobs for state-owned companies and businesses close to the state which occurred under the government coalition of the Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) between 2000 and 2007, but were revealed only recently.