A plan to consolidate the state’s holding under a single government agency was approved on Wednesday, moving another step closer to an IPO, with the government also declaring its preference for a public offering of the shares rather than a sale to majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom. “We do not know exactly when shares will get to the stock exchange, but we would like to have it concluded by the end of the first half,” ministry spokeswoman Miriam Ziakova said. The government has said it would seek a dual London and Bratislava listing for the business. Slovak Telekom reported 2014 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 310.7 million euros on sales of 767.6 million euros and the government’s 2015 budget has predicted a 1 billion euro return from the share sale. Deutsche Telekom has 51 percent stake of the Slovak business and has been considered a potential bidder for the rest, with a right of first refusal under certain conditions.
“Deutsche Telekom had the opportunity to present an offer for buying shares before the start of the IPO process … Today the government approved the IPO process,” the ministry spokeswoman told Reuters. “We cannot prevent Deutsche Telekom from making an offer, but today the government approved a sale through the stock exchange. If Deutsche Telekom comes with an offer by the time of placement, the government would consider it.” Deutsche Telekom said it would still look at the minority stake but appeared to be unconcerned by the prospect of an IPO. “Our strategy regarding our European participations has always been to look at opportunities from a perspective of whether it makes economic sense. We will do the same with Slovak Telekom,” a Deutsche spokesman said. “From an operational and economic perspective, the sale of the Slovak government’s stake does not change much for us. We can continue to execute our strategy.” The government is being advised on the IPO by JP Morgan and Citigroup.