TeliaSonera, the long-suffering half-mother of Lattelecom (49%) has officially agreed to a proposal by Minister of Transport Ainars Slesers to a deal that would essentially nationalize Lattelecom but leave TeliaSonera with 100 % ownership of mobile operator Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT).
This is an exhumed version of what Minister of Economics at the time, Aigars Stokenbergs proposed in 2006, when he said that TeliaSonera would not be allowed to buy both Latvian telecoms operators. TeliaSonera and the government did valuations of both companies for a share swap and cash payment deal very similar to what Slesers wants to see done. The earlier deal was muddled about and never done.
For TeliaSonera, this would mean that after several years of muddling around the issue, it would at last be settled, even if as Plan B (the Swedes get only LMT). For Sisyphus (Kenneth Karlberg, head of Mobility at Telia Sonera), it means that he gets the stone to the top of at least hill B.
If that happens, LMT will be developed as a company capable of anything that Lattelecom currently offers, at least in terms of telecoms and internet. Lattelecom will be split, as was the Telia branded operation in Sweden, into wholesale and retail units. LMT will probably start a limited fixed line business, while Lattelecom will have very few options for offering mobile services.
TeliaSonera must know that the chances of Lattelecom being ridden into the ground have increased signficantly with the resignation of Nils Melngailis and if the company is nationalized and held 49% by the Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LVRTC), which has little global telecoms experience.
But wait, the Latvian government, like a finicky old maid (this is how Dienas bizness described it), is split on the issue of how or whether Lattelecom should be privatized at all. The Ministry of Economics claims there are legal obstacles to Slesers' proposed deal. The Ministry of Transport gleefully announced that the Swedes had agreed and there were no problems.
On March 28, there will be an extraordinary cabinet meeting to decide this. One side or the other will or could win, but the issue could also strain the government coalition. It would not surprise me that if someone, say, the Fatherland and Freedom party economics minister, mustered enough votes to tilt against Slesers, Slesers would pull his religious-right wing Latvian First Party out of the coalition (including the PM, Ivars Godmanis). If that doesn't happen. there is still the question of, having rejected Slesers plan and given the finger, yet again for the Nth time to Sisyphus, WTF do we do now?
I don't think the wackbat* government has a clue...
* this was defined in an earlier post, I have offered it the the urban slang dictionary online :)