New government reopens Cesky sale

The newly-elected centre-left government in the Czech Republic is looking to push through a number of privatisations, including the sale of Cesky Telecom.

The incoming centre-left government in the Czech Republic is looking to proceed with the sale of the national telecoms provider Cesky Telecom after a decision on its future was delayed until after the elections.

Speaking to Reuters, the main candidate for the position of finance minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said that he anticipated a swift privatisation of the country’s telecoms and steel operations, although he added that the privatisation of the firm’s power utility, CEZ, was further down the line.

The previous government had abandoned the auction of Cesky until after the elections following the receipt of offers that fell some way short of the government’s E2.2bn asking price.

The last round of bidding in April was contested by a Blackstone-led consortium – comprising Danish telecom operator TDC and Deutsche Bank – and a consortium led by CVC, including Spectrum Equity Partners and Swisscom. The offers were reported to be in the region of E1.9bn.

Last week, the outgoing cabinet asked two bidding consortia to improve their offers for Cesky Telecom by at least 10 percent by July 19.

Sobotka said he saw ‘no reason why Cesky Telecom's privatisation should not be completed.’ He added that the government is likely to be under time pressure to sell Cesky, as the government looks to plug gaps in public finances with privatisations.