Thursday, March 13, 2008

Latvian minister out on a limb on Lattelecom?

Minister of Transport Ainars Slesers may have gone out on a limb offering to arrange the sale of TeliaSonera's 49 % stake in Lattelecom to a third party (not The Blackstone Group that has been bidding so far).
Minister of Economics Kaspars Gerhards said that this was not the official position of the government, which may be declared after the next Cabinet of Ministers meeting on March 18, when all options for privatizing Lattelecom (and mobile operator LMT) should have been considered.
Gerhards said that any offer to TeliaSonera should be considered "the initiative of (Slesers) on hios own"and not the position of the Latvian government.
It is beginning to look like an internal dispute may be breaking out inside the coalition government. Slesers has called a press conference for 1430 March 13 to explain his position.
The Minister of Transport has been considered somewhat of a loose cannon, having earlier approved, for instance, airport fee cuts for low-cost carriers seen as discriminatory and in violation of European Union rules. During the 2006 election campaign for Latvia's parliament, the Saeima, there were campaign posters of bulldozers and space shuttle launches apparently to symbolize his approach to getting things done.

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