Albania agrees to renegotiate telecom purchase

TIRANA (AP) – Albania will renegotiate the privatization of the sale of state phone company Albtelecom with a Turkish consortium after an international audit showed defects in the previous contract, the prime minister said yesterday. Sali Berisha’s Democratic Party-led government canceled the contract with the Turkish Calik Enerji Telekomunikasyon AS consortium after his party took power in September 2005, claiming irregularities in the sale through an international tender. Calik was awarded the contract earlier that year. «I informed Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan that the international consultant company has concluded its expertise. According to the international experts’ judgment, after the analysis they carried out on the contract, the latter needs revision of some of its articles. I am informed that Mr Ahmet Calik (the Turkish company’s main shareholder) has shown a full commitment to reconsider the contract and I am optimistic at the result of these negotiations. The negotiations concern the Calik Company and Albtelecom. I am informed that there is joint willingness to reconsider the problems that have remained unsolved,» said Berisha, speaking to parliamentarians after a visit to Turkey last week. Tirana chose auditors Deloitte to investigate the sale of 76 percent of Albtelecom to the Turkish consortium by Albania’s former Socialist government for 120 million euros ($152 million). Calik Enerji was the only international company that bid for 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 about 145 million euros ($184 million) in January 2004, is the only fixed-line telephone company in the country.