Turk Telekom, Calik eyeing partnership in Albanian utility

ISTANBUL/LONDON (Reuters) – Turkey’s Calik Group and landline operator Turk Telekom are creating a joint company to buy Albania’s state-run Albtelecom, sources close to the matter said yesterday. Albanian Finance Minister Genc Ruli said a week ago the 2005 deal on Calik buying the company would be annulled if it did not satisfy a condition within one month of having a partnership with a strategic telecoms operator. The sources said Calik Group officials were in Tirana yesterday to discuss the deal and to announce its agreement with Turk Telekom. «A company will be formed here with Calik having an 80 percent stake and Turk Telekom 20 percent… thus the condition set by Albania will be satisfied,» one source said. The country’s Democratic government has not so far ratified the contract that Calik signed with the previous Socialist government in 2005. Calik was the sole bidder offering -120 million for 76 percent of Albtelecom in May 2005. Calik has already agreed to the other two conditions in the deal, namely to build its own mobile phone network and commit to a long-term investment plan. Turk Telekom’s majority owner, Saudi Oger Telecom, said in late March it might bid for a majority stake in Albtelecom through Turk Telekom if Albania issues a new tender. Oger Telecom and Telecom Italia bought a 55 percent stake in Turk Telekom for $6.55 billion in 2005. Vying for BTC Separately, Oger Telecom and Turkish mobile operator Turkcell are in a race to take control of Bulgaria’s dominant telecommunications firm BTC, The Financial Times reported. The two companies have each made higher offers for BTC than two private equity firms, the newspaper said yesterday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. The four offers gave BTC an estimated value of between -1.65 billion and -1.95 billion ($2.22 billion to $2.62 billion), these people were quoted as saying. The FT named Mid Europa Partners and a consortium of Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus as the interested private equity parties.

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