The government of Serbia has rejected all 6 binding offers that it received for the 58% majority stake in Telekom Srbija.
Ministers had reportedly butted heads over which of the offers to accept, or whether to accept an offer at all. However, ultimately even the highest offer – a joint bid of €1.2 billion by Slovenia’s Telekom Slovenije and US private equity fund Apollo – fell short of the government’s €1.4 billion valuation for the unit.
The decision was made by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who had previously warned that the government would not sell the holding for less than its valuation. Telekom Srbija will now remain under the control of the state.
With around 4.8 million mobile connections – around half of the Serbia’s total – Telekom Srbija leads the country’s market. It also controls Montenegro’s M:Tel and holds a majority stake in Bosnia’s Telekom Srpske.
Telekom Austria had previously been mooted as a potential buyer after lodging a bid in 2011 which was eventually rejected. This experience may have deterred the Austrian operator this time round, with CEO Alejandro Plater stating that “Telekom Srbija was not among the projects that I presented to the owners”, despite noting that the firm wished to play a “key role” in consolidation across Europe.