Telecom provider sale stirs political crisis in Kosovo

On Wednesday the signing of a deal to sell Kosovo’s PTK telecom provider was postponed after a political row that threatens to put off foreign investors and could lead to the dissolution of the Kosovan government.

Telecom provider sale stirs political crisis in Kosovo

World Bulletin / News Desk

Parliamentary approval is required to process the 227 million euro ($306 million) deal but it has faced resistance from the opposition. Some members within the ruling coalition lead by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci have also opposed the plans.

The winning bid was placed by a German consortium ACP Axos Capital Gmbh and the U.S. based investor Najafi Companies in April. However, many believe that this offer considerably undervalues the Kosovo's most profitable company.

Analysts say that the privatization of the telecom provider results from a power struggle within the Prime Minister’s Democratic Party of Kosovo, which has consequently lead to a decline in the number of votes gained in parliament as of late.

Thaci was short of the majority in the 120-seat assembly on Wednesday.

"Today we have sent a request to the winner to postpone the signature until at least Oct. 21," said Fadil Ismalji, the Economy Minister. This will buy the opposition three extra weeks to work on reversing the decision.

Furthermore he said: "The signature will depend on results in the parliament. The failure of this process would inflict great damage on Kosovo."

Should an early election take place, the process set by the European Union to steer Kosovo and Serbia through peace talks to further their bid to join the EU could become more complicated.

A similar bid to sell PTK triggered the fall of the previous coalition in 2010. Several senior managers were charged with corruption causing the sale collapsed a year later. However, the new government originally welcomed the sale of PTK as a way to attract foreign investors.

"A state cannot start a process and ask participants to spend millions of Euros and in the end after the winner is announced claim that this is just a joke," said an anonymous telecom expert.

PTK has more than 3,000 employees, 1 million mobile subscribers, and 100,000 landline customers. It also provides Internet and cable TV services.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Eylül 2013, 15:33