Monday, March 31, 2008

Baltkom honcho proposes merger with Lattelecom

Peteris Smidre, the founder and top honcho at Baltkom, Latvia's largest cable TV company which also provides internet, fixed and mobile telephony, has said he and an international investor could participate in an auction of TeliaSonera's 49 % of Lattelecom, after which Baltkom and Lattelecom could merge to form a single group.
Smidre said such a merger would dilute the Latvian government's holding in the merged company to less than 51 %. It would also open up synergies in content distribution -- Baltkom has some 180 000 cable subscribers -- and give Lattelecom access to Baltkom's virtual mobile operator, which runs on the Bite network. With all frequencies allocated, Lattelecom has no chance to start its own GSM/UMTS operator should it leave the TeliaSonera sphere one way or another.
Smidre would not comment to this blogger on which investors he had contacted, but they are rumored to be Citigroup and The Blackstone Group.
The Latvian cable and telecoms entrepreneur (he started Baltcom GSM, then sold it to Tele2) didn't deny that one reason for his proposal was to offer an alternative to the nationalization of Lattelecom proposed by Minister of Transport Ainars Slesers.
Slesers wants TeliaSonera to swap its 49 % of Lattelecom for 23 % of mobile operator LMT held by the Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LSRTC). TeliaSonera would then buy any outstanding LMT shares held by the Latvian state for cash. Lattelecom would then be 100 % owned by the state and the state-owned LSRTC.
This is a plan that passes the Alfred E Newman test*, sorta. The possible insanity is in believing that the Latvian government will decide anything at its very appropriately scheduled April Fool's Day meeting.
* not insane

1 comment:

Raitis said...

TELIASONERA: LETTLAND FÖR AKTIEBYTE LMT/LATTELECOM - MEDIA
STOCKHOLM (Direkt) Den lettiska regeringen tog på
tisdagen ett principbeslut om att sälja sitt aktieinnehav i
den lettiska mobiloperatören LMT till Teliasonera, mot att
Teliasonera i sin tur avyttrar sina aktier i
fastnätsoperatören Lattelecom.
Det skriver den lettiska nyhetsbyrån Leta på tisdagen.
Enligt Leta planerar den lettiska regeringen att i
nästa steg sälja Lattelecom vidare, med stor sannolikhet till
riskkapitalbolaget Blackstone som tidigare deltagit i
diskussionen om privatiseringen av den lettiska
fastnätsoperatören.
Den lettiska regeringen väntas nu tillsätta en
arbetsgrupp av regeringsledamöter för att fortsätta
förhandlingarna med Teliasonera, skriver Leta./SO

There's a new twist to the story for those of you who can't understand Swedish. TeliaSonera get's 100% of LMT by trading it's 49% stake in Lattelecom to the Latvian government, that in turn sells 100% of the Lattelecom shares to Blackstone (together with Nils Melngailis perhaps?), but for what price? Shouldn't there be any other bidders? Maybe some regulation will stop this sale? Let's see. April fools everybody!