Economy experts claim that the state-owned telecommunications operator Telekom Serbia is one of the biggest debtors in Serbia and is forced to sell its strategic assets to cover some of that debt.
Consultant Bogdan Petrovic said that the fact that Telekom is selling its antenna arrays is less worrying than the fact that it has not been paying its electricity bills. He added that the state telecommunications giant is among the top 10 debtors in the country. “Telekom is not paying its bills and is forced to pay 14.5 percent interest on that. Telekom is not liquid and has huge short-term debt, while being low on current assets. The company took out a 450-million-euro loan and even that is not enough (to pay the debt) so it has to sell its assets like antenna arrays,” Petrovic claims.
The BIRN investigative website says that it had access to Telekom financial statements for 2022 which showed that the company’s short-term debts are much higher than its current assets.
Petrovic said that Telekom needs to introduce 5G which includes new antenna arrays and added that “they expect the company that buys the arrays to invest”. “The problem is that Telekom pays rent to that company,” he said.
Petrovic said that Telekom is an open shareholder society with 5 million shareholders and “has an obligation to be on the stock exchange and publish quarterly financial reports” and asked why Telekom still hasn’t got shares on the exchange to allow shareholders to trade. “We are still waiting for the 2022 report which was initially filed with errors,” he said. According to him, the company has a turnover of a billion Euro and still hasn’t paid dividends. “It’s probably waiting for the sale,” he said.
Petrovic said Telekom’s debts have a variable interest rate which means that the annual interest on its 100 million Euro debt is higher than it was two years earlier. He said Telekom needs to cut down its administration just as the national power company EPS did. “The enormous surplus of non-productive employees is a huge problem in the public sector,” Petrovic said.
Dejan Soskic, university economy professor and a former Governor of the National Bank of Serbia (NBS), also thinks that Telekom is in serious difficulties. He said the company was “involved in bad business decisions that required huge investments”. “Telecommunications are a field which offers huge profits and the fact that Telekom is facing problems indicates very bad management,” he said.
(Novi Magazin, 08.12.2023)
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