Pecik defends TA engagement

Telekom Austria (TA) investor Ronny Pecik has declared himself a team player.

The businessman – who cooperated with an Egyptian entrepreneur about increasing his stake in the firm to around 21 per cent over the past months – told radio station Ö1 today (Thurs): “I consider myself a team player. I don’t plan a fire sale.”

Pecik recently made headlines by attacking the executive board of the mobile services provider. He said today: “I always express my criticism in a rather blunt way. It is obvious that many things went wrong at Telekom Austria in the past years. However, certain decision-making procedures could have been much worse than they were.”

Pecik was elected as new member of the firm’s supervisory board at its general summit in Vienna yesterday. He refused to disclose for how long he intended to remain active in TA. Pecik did not reveal either whether he intended to increase his stake to more than 25 per cent at some point to achieve a blocking minority.

The investor vehemently rubbished accusations that he focused on a hire and fire policy in previous business engagements. “Check my CV. I have always restructured companies successfully,” he told Ö1.

Asked whether he wanted to sell his stake in TA in the near future, Pecik said that he might do so “in a situation which indicates that Telekom Austria would benefit by it”. He described the company – in which the Republic of Austria holds a 28.4 per cent stake via Federal Industry-Holding Stock Corporation ÖIAG – as an “excellent brand in Central Europe”. Pecik said: “We must not forget that Telekom Austria leads the domestic market.”

TA recently managed to get back in the black. The enterprise suffered a loss of almost 80 million Euros in the first quarter of 2011. It achieved a net profit of 46.9 million Euros in the first three months of this year. The Vienna-based company has been in the news for months due to former managers’ alleged tendency to carry out corruptive actions such as market manipulation.

State prosecutors are investing while a parliamentary committee tries to clarify to which extent parties financially benefited from the tense connections between ex-TA managers and political decision-makers. A German consulting agency assigned by the TA board informed shareholders yesterday that the illegal procedures cost the company almost 29 million Euros.

TA CEO Hannes Ametsreiter recently denied claims that he was at war with Pecik about leading TA. Ametsreiter said he “appreciates the engagement of investors” and underlined that he “welcomes their input”. He underlined that TA would do everything it can to get back the money former decision-makers might have pocketed.