Telefonica of Spain bids over $3.5bn for Cesky Telecom; National Property Fund to be wound down this year; Senate rejects Civic Democrats''squeeze out' proposal on minority shareholders; Social Democrats agree on 'Strasbourg friendly' draft plan for rent deregulation; Czech central bank cuts key interest rate to 2.0 pct, in line with European Central Bank
Telefonica of Spain probable new owner of Cesky Telecom
The Czech Minister of Finance, Bohuslav Sobotka, has reportedly advised the Cabinet to approve the sale of the state's 51 percent stake in Cesky Telecom to Telefonica next week.
However, some members of the main opposition Civic Democrats are pushing have pointed out that although the Spanish bid was higher than anticipated, it is roughly the same amount — 3.5 billion US dollars — that Britain's Vodaphone recently paid for Oskar Mobil, the smallest of the three mobile operators on the Czech market. While Cesky Telecom, which is debt-free, is the 100-percent owner of the largest mobile operator, Eurotel.
National Property Fund to be wound down this year
In related news, the lower house of Parliament this week approved a law that would dismantle the Czech Republic's privatisation agency by the end of the year. If approved by the Senate and ratified by President Vaclav Klaus, the law would have the Finance Ministry take over the government's remaining privatization agenda as of 2006. The National Property Fund holds stakes in state-owned companies on behalf of the government and organizes privatization tenders, including Cesky Telecom.
Senate rejects Civic Democrats' 'squeeze out' proposal on minority shareholders
Meanwhile, the Senate has rejected the Civic Democrat's proposed "squeeze out" revision to the commercial code that would have allowed holders of 90 percent or more in a company to force minority shareholders to sell them their shares. The rejected proposal also contained provisions for speeding up company registration.
Social Democrats agree on 'Strasbourg friendly' draft plan for rent deregulation
Also this week, the ruling Social Democrats have agreed on a basic plan for rent deregulation which the Deputy Development Minister, Ivan Prikyl, said should be finalised within a year's time, and conform to the European Court of Justice's requirements, including landlord's right to make a profit. The decision comes on the heels of a ruling in favour of Poland's landlords by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.