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Romtelecom's €1 bln share sale may be delayed until 2007

Romtelecom SA's initial share sale may be delayed until 2007 as the government needs more time to ensure it gets the best possible price for its stake in Romania's biggest phone company, Communications Minister Zsolt Nagy said. The timing of the sale depends on how long it will take Credit Suisse First Boston to evaluate Romtelecom, as well as on conditions in the market, Nagy said. He signed an agreement yesterday with Credit Suisse, which Romania hired to advise on the sale of its 46% stake in the company. “Time is running short for this to happen before the end of this year, and if we press for this to happen too soon we may be hurting this process,” Nagy said. “We'll choose the timing we deem as right to maximize gains from this transaction.” The government's stake in Romtelecom, in which Greece's Hellenic Telecommunications Organization SA owns the remaining 54%, is worth at least € 1 billion ($1.28 billion), Nagy said. Should the sale be postponed to 2007, it would be Romania's biggest public offering as a new member of the European Union, as the country is seeking membership as early as Jan. 1. Nagy said in earlier interviews this year that the sale of Romania's stake in Romtelecom could start as early as September. “If the interest in the shares will be high at the time of the public offering then we may see interest for the shares pushing our estimates beyond € 1 billion,” Nagy said. He wouldn't say exactly when he expects the offer will take place, pending final recommendations from Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse is teaming up with Romanian securities company IEBA Trust to prepare the share sale. (Bloomberg)