Prishtina, 24 January 2013 In order to maximize benefits from this transaction, to preserve national interests and not to conduct a hasty process, which could result in lower bids, we have decided to extend PTK privatization bid submission deadline to 14 March 2013, said the Minister of Economic Development, Besim Beqaj, after the meeting of the Government Committee on PTK Privatization.
Minister Beqaj made these comments as the GPC Chairman, during a press conference called to inform the public on the extension of bid submission deadline, in the presence of Vincent Le Stradic, Head of the Transaction Advisor Team, and James Allen Schmidt, Strategic Advisor.
Beqaj said that todays meeting addressed two topics: the request to extend the bid submission deadline submitted from two bidders, EBRD and IFC, in order to ensure that the bids are better informed, and that companies in competition are able to submit higher bids, which may be financially supported by EBRD.
Some days ago, we had a meeting with EBRD to discuss on the countrys strategy and relations with EBRD, and one of their requests was related to the provision of sufficient time to take part in this process, the Minister added.
Further, Beqaj said that there was another request from the American-German-British consortium Columbia Capital& ACP AxosCapital, regarding a change in the consortium, according to which the consortium ACP AxosCapital will continue to be part of the competition with another US firm and British Telecom, whereas Columbia Capital withdrew from the consortium.
The Head of MED underscored that the said decisions were preceded by thorough reviews of the legal and procedural bases, and that the strategic national interest was considered. Subsequently GPC, following endorsement by legal and transaction advisors, decided to allow the consortium change in ACP AxosCapital, and to extend the bid-submission deadline to 14 March 2013.
We are determined to have a transparent transaction, in conformity with Kosovo laws, which preserves and maximizes PTKs value. We are not interested in conducting a clumsy transaction, by all cost, Beqaj said, adding that the Government is aware that it possesses a company of high values, a company that will be sold in the event that it serves national interest, companys interests and the interest of the people.
He said that steps to be undertaken will not be subjected to time pressure, or market impacts, or impacts by any investor or company interested in the process.
The Government of Kosovo may decide to accept or reject the offer submitted by investors, in conformity with the applicable rules. We could have an offer without the change, but we are doing all we can to ensure that we will have the highest possible bid. However, in case the Government considers that the bid is not appropriate from the market perspective, and that it is not adequate for telephony companies, it may decide not to privatize, Beqaj said.
Responding to allegations that one of the bidders in the process is affiliated with Hezbollah, Minister Beqaj invited all media and citizens that have information on this matter to report them to relevant institutions, because this issue is of great significance, adding that if a company is considered to be in disharmony with national security in Republic of Kosovo, the Government may decide not to proceed with its endorsement, however, such considerations have to be substantiated with arguments.
For his part, Vincent Le Stradic, Head of the Transaction Advisor Team, assessed that the process to date was very transparent and adequately conducted, that it enjoys interest of serious companies and that all steps undertaken to date are in conformity with legal and procedural requirements.
He said that his company also conducts other processes related to telecom companies in Europe, and that some of them being postponed and even cancelled because of the macroeconomic crises.
As an advisor, I can say that the process in Kosovo generated more interest than similar processed in Europe and that we are satisfied with this process, said Le Stradic.
On the other hand, James Allen Schmidt, Strategic Advisor called to evaluate the work of Transaction Advisors and counsel GPC in the process, agreed with the conclusions of Transaction Advisors that todays decision will benefit increased competition in the process.