Albright company gives up Kosovo Telecom bid

A company chaired by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, a key promoter of Kosovo's independence, has withdrawn a bid to buy Kosovo Post Telecom (PTK), officials said Tuesday.

"Albright Capital Management (ACM) withdrew with reasoning that there were other projects world-wide they want to invest in. They did not have any objection to the procedure of biding so far," the ministry for economic development said in a statement received by AFP.

"The (withdrawal) notice came officially on January 8," the statement said.

Washington-based investment company Albright Capital Management (ACM), in partnership with Portugal Telecom, was among the five international companies and consortiums approved by the government in April as potential bidders for the PTK stake.

Other bidders for PTK were consortiums led by British Telecom Poland and Turkish mobile operator Turkcell.

Qualified bidders are supposed to submit their financial offers for PTK by the end of the month.

Kosovo's government hopes to earn 300 million euros ($400 million) from the sale of 75 percent of PTK. The company generates annual sales of 40 million euros.

The Albright company's withdrawal "is not good news for the process of privatisation," said Petrit Zogaj, head one of the most prominent Kosovo's independent anti-corruption watchdogs, FOL.

A first attempt to privatise PTK failed in 2011 due to corruption charges against a company's top official.

The Kosovo government "is not serious about the privatisation of such strategic assets as the PTK is," Zogaj said.

"The Albright company's withdrawal will affect the price and probably delay the whole process," he added.

The PTK privatisation bid has been contested by Serbia, which refuses to recognise Kosovo's 2008 unilaterally proclaimed independence, highly promoted by Albright.

Albright became unpopular with Serbs in 1999 when she backed the NATO air campaign against Serbia aimed at ending Serb forces' brutal crackdown of the independent-minded ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo.

Albright is not the first former US official to show interest in investing in Kosovo.

In June, a company led by former US army general Wesley Clark, who led the 1999 NATO campaign, applied for a licence to explore Kosovo's huge coal resources for possible production of synthetic fuel.

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