Albania sells phone company to Turkish firm

TIRANA (AP) – The Albanian government yesterday signed a contract with a Turkish consortium for the sale of 76 percent of the Albanian state phone company Albtelecom ShA in a deal worth 120 million euros, the government said. Albanian Minister of Economy Anastas Angjeli signed the contract with Calik Enerji telekomunikasyon AS, a consortium consisting of Calik Enerji and Turk Telekom, that won an international tender last month. Calik Enerji was the only international company offering to buy Albtelecom. Ten other companies – from Slovenia, South Korea, the United States, Kuwait and Ireland – had expressed interest earlier but did not submit bids. Albtelecom, which the government valued at some 145 million euros last January, is the only fixed-line telephone company in the country that also owns a mobile phone operator. The contract will be approved by the government and by the new parliament after the July 3 parliamentary elections. Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, is in the process of privatizing state-owned companies. In December 2003, it sold the Savings Bank of Albania to Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank.