Saturday 26 October 2013

State ownership in European telecommunications incumbents

The European Union (EU) is traditionally neutral on the ownership of enterprises and Member States are free to choose the forms of ownership of their enterprises (European Economy). Privatisation is not part of any legal obligations related to the electronic communications regulation. However, most of the European telecommunications operators have been privatised during the privatisation wave of 1980-90s, spurred by liberalisation.

Slovenia is in a group of five EU Member States that have retained majority state ownership of their incumbent telecommunications operators: Luxemburg (100%), Cyprus (100%), Slovenia (72% plus an additional approx. 3% indirect stake), Belgium (53,51%) and Latvia (51%).

Member States that have retained (directly or indirectly) minority ownership include Finland and Sweden (49% together), Slovakia (49%), Romania (45,99%), Germany (31,94%), France (26,95%), Austria (28,42%), Greece (10%), Hungary (3,09%) and Poland (2-3%).

In South Eastern Europe, there is still a majority state ownership of incumbent operators in Serbia (100%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH Telekom: 90%, HT Mostar: 50%), plus minority state holdings remaining in FYR Macedonia (35%), Turkey (30%) and Albania (25%).

In other European countries, states have retained majority ownership of telecommunications operators in Norway (54%) and Switzerland (57%) (Sources: Companies' annual and financial reports, 2013).

(Sources: Companies' annual and financial reports, 2013; EBRD, 2012; European Economy for Poland.)

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