The privatisation of Telekom Slovenije, which was expected to be resolved on June 10, has instead experienced another delay after the sole bidder, UK equity fund Cinven, made last-minute changes to its offer.
The Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SDH), which is in charge of the sale, held a four-hour session on June 10 to decide whether or not to accept the sole bid after Cinven warned earlier that the validity of its offer would expire after that date due to restrictions linked with its sources of financing.
Cinven submitted its bid in mid-April, allegedly offering €110mn per Telekom Slovenije share, which was considerably below the anticipated €180 and lower than the market price of €130 per share at the time. The speculations on the offered price resulted in the telecom’s shares plunging on the Ljubljana stock exchange, and intensified the public and political opposition to the sale of one of the country’s top companies, especially at such a discount.
Cinven improved its bid in May, reportedly raising the offered price per share to €130.
As SDH’s supervisory board prepared to convene on Wednesday (June 10) to finally accept or turn down Cinven’s offer, the bidder announced, as reported by news agency STA, that it had amended its final bid on Tuesday evening (June 9) due to delays in the regulatory approval for Telekom Slovenije’s takeover of local firm Debitel Telekomunikacije and in the agreed merger of the Macedonian units of Telekom Slovenije and Telekom Austria.
SDH said in a statement its supervisory board approved on June 10 Cinven’s final improved bid as submitted on May 20. However, the supervisory board did not discuss the changes made to the bid on June 9, saying they were turned down by SDH’s management as not acceptable.
As a result, the supervisory board has ordered the management to bring together the final wording of the sales contract and submit it again to the board for a final approval before signing it.
Daily Delo reported that Cinven has not yet made a comment on SDH’s decision, adding that the fate of the privatisation is now in the hands of the UK fund.
Reportedly, the last-minutes changes in the bid do not affect the offered price for each Telekom Slovenije share, as Cinven had expressed hope earlier on June 10 it would receive a positive answer to its offer.
Telekom Slovenije's shares closed unchanged at €98 on the Ljubljana stock exchange on June 10.
The government is selling its 73% stake in the company, which it holds directly and through state agencies. The telecom is the largest on the list of 15 state-controlled firms that Ljubljana plans to sell under the major privatisation plan adopted in June 2013.
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