Nemsic may head for Dubai as ORF rumours linger on

Former Telekom Austria (TA) boss Boris Nemsic has been hired by a global investment and consulting firm, according to reports.

Business newspapers claim today (Fri) that the Sarajevo-born businessman will head the emerging markets operations of Delta Partners, a firm based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Nemsic headed TA for four years until 2006 before joining Russian mobile services giant VimpelCom. He left the company in 2010 – after having signed a three-year contract in April of the previous year.

The influential entrepreneur was interested in succeeding Peter Michaelis as head of the Austrian Industry-Holding Stock Corporation ÖIAG. However, ex-Federation of Austrian Industries (IV) secretary Markus Beyrer got the top job.

Reports also have it that the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has tried to persuade Nemsic to run for the post as head of national broadcaster ORF over the party’s disagreement with decisions made by current ORF boss Alexander Wrabetz. In a bizarre twist, the conservative ÖVP encouraged Gerhard Zeiler – who is close to the Austrian Social Democrats (SPÖ) – to challenge the candidacy of Wrabetz who has also sided with the SPÖ.

However, Zeiler recently said he decided not to apply for the position due to political leaders’ intense attempts to influence decisions at the station. Zeiler currently heads the RTL Group, the leading broadcasting company in Europe and one of the biggest multimedia firms in the world.

Zeiler’s decision is considered to increase the chances of Wrabetz when ORF’s Stiftungsrat – a panel similar to a supervisory board – picks a new boss next month. Commentators also point out that Zeiler has kept his options open to succeed under-fire Werner Faymann as federal chancellor and SPÖ chairman.

It is unclear whether Nemsic was out of the race for the job as boss of the ORF as he declined to comment on rumours linking him with a nomination. The ex-TA chief also failed to confirm reports he was about to start working for Delta Partners. Rumour has it that Nemsic decided to put his family aspects over money matters when he left VimpelCom earlier than planned last year to settle in Vienna again.

Wrabetz took over at ORF – which has seen viewing figures dwindle over the years – in 2006. A study carried out by pollster OGM in 2009 disclosed that 58 per cent of Austrians considered politicians’ influence on the broadcasting company as “too high.”

The state-funded channel had a market share of 66 per cent in 1993. Its share declined down to 39 per cent in 2009. ORF bosses have argued that increasing competition by private stations and changed routines of young people were to blame, while many criticise the channel for the allegedly poor quality of some of its programmes.

Research has shown that 42.5 per cent of all ORF programmes are entertainment. News only takes a share of 20.9 per cent. The company plans to get a new TV channel, ORF III, on air in the autumn. It currently runs ORF 1, ORF 2 and TW1 as well as a string of radio stations.