Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis' press secretary Edgars Vaikulis told this blogger that no letter has been received from The Blackstone Group reminding the government of the link between its offer to participate in a buy-out of TeliaSonera's 49 % share in Lattelecom and the continued leadership of the fixed network operator by Nils Melngailis. Melngailis has submitted his resignation effective April 1 and is currently on vacation.
I wrote in an earlier post that, according to an informed source, Blackstone had sent a letter to the Latvian government reminding it that the offer to buy out TeliaSonera was dependent on Melngailis remaining at his post. Logically, the between-the-lines message was: no Melngailis, no deal. For this reason, my assertion that the deal was dead was published with a question mark in the headline, but I would be surprised if it wasn't.
My sources insist that a letter has been sent, but say that the tone of it was very mild, just saying that Melngailis' departure increased the risks faced by the proposed deal. I still maintain that Blackstone, however politely and indirectly, is heading for the door.
Knowing the Latvian Postal Service, the letter may simply not have arrived, although business communications generally are sent by courier or electronically.
Vaikulis confirmed that the government had received a letter from TeliaSonera that it would consider in a special working group on March 12, then submit the working group's recommendations to the regular government meeting on March 18. Vaikulis didn't disclose the content of the letter. This blog has written (and news agencies in Sweden report that TeliaSonera confirms) that the letter proposed dividing Lattelecom into separate wholesale and retail units to ensure competition.