Telenor won’t comment on reported plans for stake in CosmOTE

OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian telecoms group Telenor declined comment yesterday on plans for its stake in Greek mobile firm CosmOTE, but reiterated a strategy to withdraw from companies where it sees no prospect for control. OTE Telecom said on Tuesday that its board had postponed for a second time a decision to buy Telenor’s 18-percent stake in CosmOTE. «We own 18 percent in CosmOTE. That is all I have to say about that,» Dag Vangsnes, executive vice president of Telenor Mobile, told Reuters. «We have never announced plans to sell or to raise that stake. I will not rule out either.» He also referred to Telenor Mobile’s international business strategy, which is, to pull out of any operations where the company does not see any chance of getting a controlling stake. In May last year, the former Greek state telecoms monopoly, OTE, said it had deferred a decision over the purchase of Telenor’s stake in CosmOTE, because it needed further evaluation of the price. Telenor also declined comment on that decision. Telenor bought a 30-percent stake in CosmOTE in 1997 for 26 billion drachmas (76 million euros). OTE’s stake in CosmOTE fell to 59 percent and Telenor’s to 18 when the subsidiary was floated on the Athens and London exchanges in September 2000. Haluk Buyukbas, deputy chairman of the Privatization Administration, told a conference in Ankara the Petrol Ofisi offer would be in the first quarter of 2002 and Tupras in the second quarter.

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