Telekom Srbija is poised to become a major player in the Balkan region.
This month we have already learnt that the company has agreed to buy Blicnet, one of the leading cable operators in Bosnia & Herzegovina, from Telekom Slovenije. It has also stated its intention to buy Telekom Albania, the second largest telco in Albania, from its current owners Cosmote (OTE), backed by Deutsche Telekom.
However, the latter deal could prove difficult to pull off due to political opposition in Albania. While the country welcomes investment from Serbia, the government has indicated that it is against the sale of such an important company despite Telekom Srbija having already lodged the highest bid, understood to be €60 million.
Two other prospective buyers, both Bulgarian and one believed to be Vivacom, are also in the picture and it is likely they would meet with less opposition from the Albanian authorities.
Yet even if Telekom Srbija does not succeed in Albania, the trajectory will remain one of regional expansion. Only two months ago, its general manager Predrag Culibrk said it had €500 million to invest in acquisitions. Furthermore, he revealed that the company was in negotiations to take over a number of cable operators in its home market.
Despite this, Telekom Srbija remains an attractive take-over target in its own right. Culibrk was quick to dismiss reports that it was being eyed up by A1 Telekom Austria Group, one of the leading players in the Balkan region.
We have of course been here before, with Telekom Austria having made a bid for a majority (51%) stake in Telekom Srbija as far back as 2011. More recently, the Serbian government received no fewer than six bids for the telco in 2015 before calling off its privatisation and leaving things hanging in the air.
While Telekom Srbija will no doubt continue its buying spree, its own sale at some stage in the future cannot be ruled out.