Yesterday was the deadline for the submission of preliminary bids. According to Reuters at least three telecoms operators submitted a bid, including Swisscom and Telefonica. Bloomberg reported that Belgacom also filed a bid of USD 2.44bn. Reportedly France Telecom also might have bid, though the offer had many conditions attached to it, said Reuters. It is not clear how many of the financial groups that registered in the tender (Blackstone/CVC/Providence, Citigroup Venture Capital, PPF and SPO Partners) joined a telecoms company in the bidding. Only the Czech group PPF said it placed a bid together with J&T and a small telecoms company called InWay. The preliminary bids are reportedly as high as USD 3bn, or CZK 69bn, which implies CZK 420 / share. The price per share represents a 19% premium on the 6M volume-weighted average price of CZK354, but is in line with the current market price. In the morning, Danish TDC confirmed earlier rumors that it would pull out of the tender due to the current high price of CT. Vodafone was also said not to have posted a bid. The government did not release any statement on the results of the bidding. The steering privatization committee is meeting on Monday, Feb 7, to evaluate the bids and the cabinet is expected to name the shortlisted companies on Wednesday, Feb 9. An official statement on the tender will be released on Monday, the National Property Fund said. Binding bids are expected by the end of the third week of March and a strategic investor should be chosen by the end of March. Depending on the bids the state might still opt for a capital market transaction, but if current indications are confirmed, we see the probability of a float as minimal.
In other news, Tele2 has filed a CZK 2.1bn lawsuit against Cesky Telecom. According to Tele2 the pricing policy of CT has significantly damaged its business in the Czech Republic.