By Tawanda Chihota
Etisalat International CEO Obaid Bin Mes’har has called for guarantees that Telecom Italia will indeed withdraw from Avea should it not be successful in its bid for Turk Telekom.
The UAE’s Etisalat is one of four short-listed bidders in the hunt for a 55% stake in Turkish state telco Turk Telekom. The deadline for submissions of bids to be considered for the stake closed on June 24, with four consortia being identified. They were: The Koc Holding/Carlyle Group, Oger Telecom/Telecom Italia, Calik Group/Etisalat/Dubai Islamic Bank, and Turktell-Genpa-Tekofaks groups. The Turkish Privatisation Board expects bidding to start at US$4.4 billion.
Telecom Italia's tie-up with Saudi Oger is an indication of the Italian company’s desire to consolidate its holding in Turkish mobile operator Avea. Telecom Italia already holds a direct 40% stake in Avea with Turk Telekom holding a further 40%. Acquisition of a controlling stake in Turk Telekom would thus see Telecom Italia acquiring control of Avea.
Earlier in the privatisation process the Italian telco had threatened to withdraw from Avea if its bid for Turk Telekom was unsuccessful. At the time the telco said that if another operator won the Turk Telekom privatisation auction Telecom Italia could not remain in the same company as a competitor. Etisalat International CEO Obaid Bin Mes’har has called for guarantees that Telecom Italia will indeed withdraw from Avea should it not be successful in its bid for Turk Telekom.
The Saudi Oger/Telecom Italia consortium will be headed up by Saudi Oger subsidiary, Oger Telecom, though it is understood that the Italian telco will continue its partnership with BT Group's international consulting arm BT Teleconsult on operational and technical matters.
Oger and BT Teleconsult have agreed to extend their operational and technical cooperation if the consortium's bid is successful. It is anticipated Oger and BT Teleconsult will manage Turk Telekom’s fixed line business, while Oger Telecom and Telecom Italia Mobile will concentrate on Avea's mobile operations.