(Corrects to clarify in 1st paragraph Vodafone did not confirm talks on reported possible sale, changes headline to “holding talks” from “held talks”)
PRAGUE, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Vodafone’s Czech subsidiary said on Monday it has been in talks with state-controlled CEZ utility regarding strategic cooperation, but did not confirm the discussions were about the possible sale of the unit as reported by a Czech newspaper.
Financial daily Hospodarske Noviny reported on Monday that CEZ, central Europe’s largest listed energy group, was interested in buying Vodafone’s Czech business. Talks over a price for the market’s number three operator have been ongoing since the summer months last year, the paper said.
“We confirmed to Hospodarske Noviny that there have been talks with CEZ on different options of strategic cooperation. We did not confirm, however, that it is about selling the whole Vodafone (in the country),” Vodafone’s local spokesman Ondrej Lustinec said.
CEZ declined to comment on the report, and Vodafone did not give further details on the nature of the cooperation being discussed.
CEZ, which is 70% owned by the state, already has a smaller mobile operatation with 130,000 clients, leasing network capacity from O2 Czech Republic.
Hospodarske Noviny said Vodafone’s local operations could be valued in the low tens of billions of crowns in the event of a sale.
Vodafone Czech Republic has around 4 million customers and reported a net profit of 1.46 billion crowns ($68.08 million) in its fiscal year to March 2020.
$1 = 21.4460 Czech crowns Reporting by Robert Muller and Jason Hovet, editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan