Monday, August 24, 2009

TeliaSonera offers complete buyouts of Estonian and Lithuanian subsidiaries

TeliaSonera has offered to buy the remaining shares in its Estonian and Lithuanian subsidiaries for just under SEK 5 billion cash. The Swedish telecoms group is offering SEK 3.3 billion for the remaining shares in Eesti Telecom, a holding company that owns 100 % of mobile operator Estonian Mobile Telephone (EMT) and fixed network operator Elion. It is offering just under SEK 1.6 billion for the remaining shares in TEO LT, the Lithuanian fixed network, internet TV, call center and data center services company. Telia Sonera currently holds around 60 % of both companies,
The offer has been criticized as somewhat low and taking advantage of the economic crisis by a Danske Bank analyst. However, this appears to be bottom feeding on the part of the Swedes, not real vulture capitalism (which presumes that the buy-out subject is near financial death).
All of which is fine and dandy, because Eesti Telecom shareholders can get more than 24 % above the last market price for their shares, while TEO LT shareholders are offered a premium of nearly 31 %. The offer also bounced up both the Tallinn (13.3 % at one point) and Vilnius (9.7 % in mid-session) bourses, and even got a 2.7 % rise out of Riga. Which is not to say that it takes much in any of these places.
However, in terms of the Latvian telecoms market, TeliaSonera has ignored its two other (as some European languages put it) daughters or semi-daughters -- Lattelecom (where it holds 49 %) and Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) (where it holds around 60%). The reason is that all the rest of the shares are held by the Latvian government --which, to use a term of management disfunction assessment often spoken but seldom written-- cannot unfuck itself to make any kind of decision.
So, while the Estonian government will get a considerable sum for its 24 % in Eesti Telecom, and many private Lithuanian shareholders will at least smile, if not laugh all the way to the bank (the state owns less than 1 % of TEO), the Latvian government will continue to hold its shares (which it could have unloaded for USD 1 billion a couple of years back) like a turkey guarding a shitpile (tītars uz sūdu kaudzes -- is that a Latvian expression?). Or am I wrong??

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