The British Vodafone has hired Citibank as an advisor in the planned privatization of the state's 51% stake in Cesky Telecom, Bloomberg reported on Friday. It may reportedly be interested only in CT's 100%-owned mobile arm, Eurotel. Any interest by large foreign operators may promise a higher privatization price.
Besides Vodafone, government officials have also mentioned the French Orange, Deutsche Telekom and the Danish TDC together with Goldman Sachs as possible investors interested in the privatization. According to earlier comments, the Czech financial group PPF and Swisscom, the former minority shareholder (together with CVC Capital Partners Ltd.), are reportedly also potential bidders.
Note that the privatization process should begin in September, when the Cabinet is expected to approve a detailed privatization strategy submitted by a privatization advisor CSFB/Ceska sporitelna; it should be concluded next year. The government is still considering both the major privatization scenarios: selling the stake directly to an investor (preferably a strategic one) or through the capital markets. The government assumes a combined privatization of Cesky Telecom and Eurotel, but it takes no steps that would make a subsequent split of the companies difficult.
Jan Hajek, Patria Finance