ECONOMY

Four binding bids for a majority stake in Montenegrin telecoms

PODGORICA (Reuters) – Four international firms submitted binding bids for a 51 percent stake in Montenegro’s telecommunications company Telekom Crne Gore, the agency handling the privatization said yesterday. Telekom, valued around 150 million euros ($202 million) according to government estimates, has 190,000 fixed-line subscribers and posted 92 million euros in turnover in 2003. An agency statement said the four bidders were Hungary’s Matav, Slovenia’s Telekom, Austria’s Mobilkom, the mobile unit of Telekom Austria, and Serbia’s Telekom Srbija, which is 20 percent owned by Greece’s OTE. Telekom Crne Gore was put on sale in October and the winning bid is expected to be announced in mid-January. The buyer will be chosen on the basis of both its cash offer and its business and social programme for the firm. The tiny republic of 650,000 put its telecoms business – which also includes mobile phone service Monet, an Internet provider and Montecard phone booths – on sale in 2001, but failed to draw any bidders. Montenegro officials expect most funds from privatizations next year to come from Telekom and the KAP aluminum smelter.