ECONOMY

Romtelecom float set for after November

BUCHAREST – Romania will delay the float of a 46 percent stake in fixed-line operator Romtelecom beyond November to give the deal’s adviser more time to assess the company, Communication Minister Zsolt Nagy said yesterday. The Romtelecom sale, previously expected in October or November, will be the European Union candidate’s biggest share offering. Analysts say it will help to boost volumes on the illiquid stock exchange. «We do not expect to sell the shares by November. We can not estimate for how many months it will be delayed,» Nagy told reporters. “We will sell shares once Credit Suisse finishes the assessment of Romtelecom.» A consortium of Credit Suisse Securities and IEBA Trust was signed up yesterday to advise the government on the listing. Nagy also said he hoped the sale would value the stake at 1 billion euros ($1.28 billion), up from his previous estimate of $1.06 billion. «We hope to obtain 1 billion euros from the sale,» he said. Romtelecom, a former fixed-line monopoly, is majority-owned by Greek telecoms company OTE, which paid $243 million in 2003 to raise its stake to 54 percent from 35 percent. Eastern Europe saw its highest number of stock-market listings last year, with volumes surging 91 percent to $8.9 billion from the year before. Nagy also reaffirmed original plans to list Romtelecom on the Bucharest Stock Exchange and on a foreign bourse. Romtelecom recorded a 12 percent year-on-year rise in 2005 net profit to 237.9 million euros on a 10.3 percent rise in revenues to 925.7 million euros. Since its 2003 liberalization, the Romanian telecoms market has attracted around 74 new phone operators, but Romtelecom has kept its dominant role, with a 90 percent market share.