BARCELONA (Reuters) - Carlos Slim’s America Movil may join the 4 billion euro Polkomtel auction, switching its focus away from Serbia, the company’s CEO Daniel Hajj told Reuters at a telecoms trade fair on Tuesday.
Hajj, speaking on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, said he would decide next week whether to bid for Polkomtel, Poland’s largest mobile company.
“I am thinking about bidding for Polkomtel, but I am thinking about not bidding for (a stake in Telekom) Srbija,” Hajj said.
Bankers have put a price tag of around 4 billion euros on Polkomtel and have described the business as attractive on account of the growth potential of the Polish market.
Vodafone and several state-backed Polish companies launched what would be one of Europe’s largest leveraged buyouts since the financial crisis began in 2008 to sell Polkomtel about two weeks ago.
The vendors are looking for a full exit, one banker said, and so an IPO is not under consideration at the current time.
Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, Nordic operator TeliaSonera, Spain’s Telefonica and Norway’s Telenor are interested in the business.
“Poland is in one of our neighbouring markets; it would not be a surprise if we would take a look,” Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas told Reuters.
He added, however, that Telenor puts great emphasis on operations it already has elsewhere.
Private equity firms TPG and Blackstone are working on a joint bid, and Apax, KKR, EQT, CVC and BC Partners may also be interested, bankers have said.
America Movil’s waning interest is the latest blow to the privatisation of Telekom Srbija.
The government owns 80 percent of the company and wants to auction off a majority stake for 1.4 billion euros.
Greece’s biggest telecom OTE said it would sell its minority stake in Serbia’s former monopoly, if it can get a fair price, to raise cash for cutting debt and investing in new networks.
Turkcell chief executive Sureyya Ciliv told Reuters earlier at the mobile fair that 1.4 billion euros was a “high” price for the government to set.
And the GSMA mobile operators association said on its website in early February that France Telecom would not be bidding for a 51 percent stake in Telekom Srbija because it was too expensive.
Editing by Will Waterman