Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Management/staff buyout proposed for Lattelecom

Lattelecom's management has proposed a management/staff buyout of the company as an alternative to the long, drawn out negotiations with the half-mother TeliaSonera on a resolution of the privatization of Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT).
The plan was reported by Baiba Rulle, a most capable reporter at Diena, and confirmed by Lattelecom CEO Nils Melngailis, who declined to disclose any details, citing confidentiality until the government (which has not exactly been falling over itself to talk to TeliaSonera) examines and decides on the proposal.
With Lattelecom (minus the 23 % of LMT it holds) valued at at least 260 million lats, this is probably a bit more than the company's executives and staff can afford out of pocket. So in all likelihood, the proposal has lined up some kind of deal with either a bank, a banking consortium or private equity investor.
My guess is that some people in the government may see this as a "back door" for evil foreign (Western) financial interests trying to prevent them from running Lattelecom as a 100 % state-owned company that can be politically influenced to make commercially dubious investments or to simply operate as a Ministry of Telecommunications rather than an enterprise.
This is exactly what management is trying to head off -- the (as the Germans would say) Bock zum Gaertner (Billygoat as a gardner :) ? ) scenario of state ownership. At the same time, Lattelecom' s management sees the half-mother as a little slow on some important decisions and would, perhaps, not mind having TeliaSonera out of the picture.

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