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Cesky Telecom – the end of privatization?

27.11.2002 9:29
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Bloomberg News reported yesterday that Deutsche Bank failed to reach an agreement with KPN, a 6% minority shareholder in Cesky Telecom, on a share buyout toward acquiring CT jointly from the state and key minority shareholders; KPN, while reportedly having a joint-sell agreement with the Cabinet, insisted on a CZK 340 per-share buy-out price for its stake.

The Czech-based MFDnes daily says today that JP Morgan, the government’s privatization advisor for CT, informed the prime minister yesterday that it would recommend halting the sale. The finance minister, B. Sobotka, said yesterday that this could be considered the effective end of CT privatization.

As we had expected this outcome, we upgraded CT stock to a speculative buy last week. There remains little to speculate about at present - with the privatization tender seemingly doomed, most of the current uncertainties related to post-sale transparency, ownership structure, and strategic issues are thus removed.

While we think that CT’s acquisition of the remaining 49% stake in Eurotel, its 51% owned mobile operator, would be the best scenario for CT now, other options, such as a large dividend payment, are not significantly inferior. It is likely that the state would opt for a large dividend to partly make up for the lost privatization revenue in a cancelled tender (via its dividend and the withholding tax on minority-shareholder dividends).

We estimate the gross dividend could be, at maximum, close to CZK 100 per share. Our current target price is CZK 380 per share, implying the stock should trade at CZK 280 ex-dividend.

Jiri Soustuznik

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