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Telekom Austria, Telekom Srbija vie for phone stake

Telekom Austria AG and Telekom Srbija made offers for a 65% stake in Telekom Srpske, a state-owned phone company that the Bosnian Serbs put on sale.

The government plans to announce the winner after confirming the offers comply with legal requirements, said Slavica Skoro, a spokeswoman for the Banja Luka-based privatization agency, in a phone interview. She said she cannot comment on the offers because they haven't been opened. The Republika Srpska is selling its stake in Banja Luka-based Telekom Srpske to investors to open up its economy as it seeks closer ties with the European Union.

The sale comes after Serbia sold Mobi 63, a mobile-phone operator, to Norway's Telenor ASA for €1.51 billion ($1.9 billion) in July. Vienna-based Telekom Austria, the largest Austrian telephone company, earlier this month won a mobile-phone license in Serbia as it seeks to make up for falling domestic phone-service sales. Telekom Srbija, based in Belgrade, is a state-owned Serbian phone company. Hellenic Telecommunications Organization SA, the largest Greek phone company, owns 20% in Telekom Srbija.

Telekom Srpske has about 570,000 wireless customers and 350,000 fixed-line clients, according to Telekom Austria. Stefano Colombo, Telekom Austria's finance chief, said in August Telekom Srpske may be worth as much as 600 million euros ($769 million). Telenor, France Telecom SA, Deutsche Telekom AG's Magyar Telekom Nyrt unit, Novator of Iceland and a unit of Russia's AFK didn't submit bids after purchasing tender documents earlier. (Bloomberg)