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Ukrtelecom’s new owner mulls market in 3-5 years

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April 21, 2011, 10:47 p.m. | Business — by Reuters

Peter Goldscheider, EPIC’S managing partner

Reuters

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Reuters – Austrian investment firm EPIC, which last month took over Ukraine’s largest fixed line operator Ukrtelecom, may place some of its shares on the market in 3-5 years, EPIC said on April 19. EPIC bought a 93 percent stake in Ukrtelecom from the government for $1.3 billion after becoming the only bidder in an auction for the asset.

The sale, which was the biggest privatization deal under the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, has raised questions as its rules prevented several potential contenders such as Deutsche Telekom from taking part.
Our timetable is closer to five years than three years... An initial public offering ... is a much more logical step (than a sale to a strategic investor).”

- Peter Goldscheider, EPIC’S managing partner.

Some analysts have said the deal appeared to be designed to benefit some of Yanukovich’s industrialist backers such as steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov or chemicals-to-media tycoon Dmytro Firtash.

But EPIC managing partner Peter Goldscheider denied involvement in “any political game” and said his firm was a long-term investor that would not quickly resell the asset to another entity.

“I would be very surprised if we started to think about selling sooner than in three years,” he told reporters. “Our timetable is closer to five years than three years... An initial public offering ... is a much more logical step (than a sale to a strategic investor).”

Ukrtelecom has about 10 million subscribers, commanding an 80 percent market share in fixed line communications. It also has a small mobile business.

The company cut its net loss to $32.5 million in 2010 from $58 million a year before.
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