Saturday, February 14, 2009

Albania - privatisation of AMC

Albania Sells Stake in Mobile Operator

Albania has sold its 12.6 percent stake in mobile phone operator Albanian Mobile Communication to Greece's Cosmote for €48.2 million.

The purchase brings Cosmote's stake in AMC to 97.6 percent.

Deputy Economy Minister Enno Bozdo said the privatization of the shares was successful and a sign of the strength of the Albanian economy amid the global economic crisis.

"We consider this as a very successful sale and another vote of confidence of foreign investors in Albania,” Bozdo told reporters. “Its value is even bigger as we see the European economy and some Balkan countries showing signs of recession."

This year Albania plans to end to sell its minority holdings in former state-owned companies to finance public infrastructure projects, particularly a highway linking it with the neighbouring Kosovo. The state still holds a 24 percent of the phone company Albtelkom, 15 percent of the refiner ARMO, and 24 percent of utility OSSH.

Albania has three mobile operators in the market and the highest mobile rates in Europe. A tender for a fourth mobile license is expected to be held in November. Experts hope that the recent expansion of newcomer Eagle mobile and the eventual arrival of a fourth operator will increase competition and reduce call rates, as the two other companies currently present in the market, Vodafone and AMC, have often been accused by consumer groups of unfair pricing practices.

In November 2007, the two companies were fined €3.7 million by Albania’s Competition Authority for abusing their dominant position in the market by setting unfair prices.

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