Telekom Serbia is politically motivated to acquire Telekom Albania

As the Danas daily unofficially finds out, Telekom Serbia has offered 61 million euro to acquire Telekom Albania, which is also the biggest offer of the four submitted bids for the takeover of the second largest telecommunication company in Albania.

“Telekom Serbia wants to position itself as the regional leader in the telecommunications market in the region, and to that end, has submitted a bid to acquire Telekom Albania, a company owned by Deutsche Telekom,” the press release of Telekom Serbia states without going into further details about the offer or the ongoing bidding process.

Sources close to Telekom Albania, say that four other companies have submitted bids too – the Turkish company Eagle Mobile, which is already the third biggest telecommunications operator in Albania, an anonymous Greek investor, PPF Group from the Czech Republic and Bulgaria’s Vivacom, or rather the Albanian Telekom Invest Fund which is managed by Spas Rusev, the owner of Vivacom.

The deadline for submission of final offers was September 17th this year. According to the Danas’ source, there are indications that the offer of the Serbian company is based on “non-business motives since it gave an unreasonably high bid”.

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The source also claims that Telekom Serbia has strong political support and that the Serbian authorities, through their German counterparts, appealed to Deutsche Telekom to soften the Albanian government and regulatory bodies to accept the Serbian offer.

Allegedly, the offer of the Greek investor was high, but financing details of the entire transaction were not provided. The Turkish bidder could have problems obtaining the consent from the Albanian competition protection body, while the Bulgarian offer was the lowest.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Telekom Albania had a 36.5% share in the Albanian mobile market at the end of June 2018, claiming second place behind market leader Vodafone Albania, which provides telecom services to 48.0% of the nation’s wireless subscribers. The operator is 99.76%-owned by Greece’s OTEvia Cosmote’s COSMO-Holding Albania. OTE is, in turn, 40%-owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.

Telekom Serbia’s current international footprint includes facilities-based operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo as well as MVNO m:tel Austria, and the group is understood to be one of the Balkan state’s most profitable companies. Telekom Serbia’s expansion into Albania would also represent the first major Serbian investment in Albania in years, amidst tense political relations over Kosovo.

For its part, meanwhile, PPF Group has similar regional ambitions: the group completed its takeover of the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) assets of Norwegian group Telenor earlier this year – including units in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia – and was reported to have entered a bid for United Group – which has operations in Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina – in August, although that proved unsuccessful, with BC Partners agreeing to purchase the company in late September.

(Danas, TeleGeography, 02.10.2018)


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