Telekom Srbija reportedly has at least seven competitors in its bid to acquire Kosovar service provider IPKO.
According to TeleGeography, all of the bidders are seeking a 100% stake in IPKO. Last month, Telekom Srbija bid €155 million for the unit, and local outlet Blic reports that the operator is now through to the second round of the tender process. Another local paper, the Kosova Press, alleged that ten offers had been received for IPKO, although it did not provide sources.
Telekom Srbija, which delivers services using MTS’ branding, has not confirmed the reports but Blic quoted Vladimir Lucic, coordinator of internet and multimedia at the operator, as saying that its bid for IPKO “is not political but economic and very important for us in the realisation of our goal to become a telecommunications leader.”
In December 2016, the EU orchestrated a deal that granted Telekom Srbija an operating licence in Kosovo, and it launched MTS Kosovo the following year. Its plans for regional expansion have previously been met with resistance; since the Serbian government owns the unit, other countries have been reluctant to allow it access to key infrastructure.
This was demonstrated in 2018 when Telekom Srbija attempted to acquire Telekom Albania. While Albania’s government did not own this unit, its security concerns seemingly played a part in the bid ultimately being rejected, and observers have speculated that a similar fate could await Telekom Srbija in Kosovo.
Responding to this, Lucic said: “I do not understand those who compare our offer with the offer we made in Albania two years ago. We already operate in Kosovo and Metohija as a fixed and mobile operator, and I don’t see why anyone would be against our additional investment, because it is primarily good for users and the economy in this area.”