ECONOMY

Thirteen bidders for stake in Turk Telekom

ANKARA (Reuters) – Thirteen companies and joint ventures have passed the prequalification stage in the privatization of state telecoms company Turk Telekom, Turkey’s Privatization Agency (OIB) said yesterday. Turkey last November launched the sell-off of a 55 percent block of the company, a fixed-line operator that analysts say might be worth several billion dollars in total. The deadline for prequalification applications was January 11, and Ankara is seeking bids by May 31 at the latest. Those that have expressed interest include Spain’s Telefonica SA, Belgacom SA, a joint venture between Turkey’s Koc and Sabanci groups, Telecom Italia and Saudi Oger Ltd, which includes Saudi Telecom. Other companies involved are the Turkish Dogan group, Mapa Insaat ve Ticaret, Multi Global Link and a joint venture of Emirates Telecommunications Corporation/Cetel Calik Enerji/Dubai Islamic Bank. A subsidiary of leading Turkish mobile phone operator Turkcell, Turktell Bilisim, will lead a 14-member consortium, Turkish business group Oyak, SK Telecom and a group called Turkish Privatization Investors. No realistic value estimate has yet emerged for Telekom, which has 19 million subscribers, and according to sector analysts is the world’s 13th largest telecoms group. Telekom technically lost its monopoly status last year after the government opened the market to competition, but still controls the market with no rivals yet in the fixed-line sector.