The Latvian government is split on the issue of privatizing Lattelecom and Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis told journalists following a regular government meeting on March 18.
He said it would be difficult to reach a decision without a vote of all cabinet members, which he said he would be ready to take.
Godmanis also said he would be going to Stockholm after Easter to speak to officials of TeliaSonera about the various privatization proposals.
The Swedish-Finnish telecoms group has said it wants to buy all remaining government stakes in Lattelecom and LMT for LVL 500 million, then split Lattelecom into a whole sale/network and retail/services unit.
The Latvian government has said it would not sell both the fixed and mobile operators to TeliaSonera, citing fears of a monopoly. TeliaSonera has said that, if given no other choice, they would settle for buying LMT alone and develop it as a full service provider, including fixed network services.
Latvian Minister of Transport Ainars Slesers has proposed swapping TeliaSonera's 49 % of Lattelecom for the 23 % of LMT held by the Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LVRTC), effectively nationalizing the company 100 %. This initiative was denounced by other members of the coalition government as an unapproved, individual initiative by the minister. Slesers send an official letter with the proposal to Sweden on March 17, having previously said that TeliaSonera had agreed in principle to the deal.
All plans by The Blackstone Group to get a stake in Lattelecom can be regarded as clinically dead, waiting for the right breeze to topple them over like a dead horse, eyes glazed and tongue hanging out...
The mess continues...