Just met a former Lattelecom person on the street who wondered why I have written nothing on the blog for some time. First, I was in the US for more than two weeks. Second, nothing is happening.
On the other hand, that may be significant in and of itself. The most important area of nothing is with regard to a final ownership arrangement for Lattelecom and LMT, the mobile operator. Other than the government asking the Latvian Privatization Agency (LPA) to get an advisor/consultant (the guy who takes your watch and tells you what time it is) on this matter, nothing is, indeed, happening in the scheme to nationalize Lattelecom (then, maybe, resell 49 % to The Blackstone Group) and let Sweden's TeliaSonera take all 100 % of LMT.
My feeling is that getting an advisor is, in effect, another delaying tactic (though maybe not a conscious choice by the government). The advisor must, after all, study your watch, find the hands or digits and figure out how to hold it so as to tell you the correct time. I don't think this deal will get done by the end of the year. The Swedish side of it is in the summer doldrums, too. Only when schools start in mid-to-late August do things get rolling in the land of endless vacations and crayfish parties.
Once we are in 2009, we are in election territory. There will be bellweather municipal elections next year, followed by national elections in 2010. Surprisingly, there are signs of paranoia among the 100-strong monkey troop that forms the national parliament or Saeima after the failed referendum where around 97 % of those who did vote were in favor of an amendment making it easier for the electorate to dismiss the Saeima. They and the already unpopular government may not be ready to make any controversial decisions, especially about selling "national treasures" etc.
So I don't see the final ownership arrangements for the big players in Latvian telecoms being approved this year and probably not even in 2009 or 2010. Unlikely, at the least. But one must be ready for many surprises in Latvia and, rarely, one of them may even be pleasant.