Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Marcela Guerlichova yesterday said that the buyers of the government’s stakes in Ceske radiokomunikace and Cesky Telecom will be obliged to offer to buy-out minority shareholders, given that the new Commercial Code, effective January 1, 2001, no longer allows the government to waive the usual buyout obligation. Ceske radiokomunikace’s privatization is under way and the tender winner should be selected in January of next year; the decision on the method and timing of Cesky Telecom privatization is due to be made by Cabinet by the end of November this year. Buyout obligations would be welcomed by minority shareholders, but it may make it more difficult for the government to sell its stakes to investors. The market will likely respond positively to the prospect of buyouts, but there will be concern whether the buyout obligation will not unnecessarily complicate the selloffs (in the past, buyers of Czech government stakes were exempted from the buyout obligation).
Also, this obligation would extend to other privatizations, which are under way (KB) or in the pipeline (CEZ, Unipetrol).