Slovenias telecom has won a second wireless operator licence in Kosovo after the company that was initially awarded the licence failed to pay the required fee by the deadline, according to Wednesdays reports in the Slovenian press.As a result, the Kosovo Agency for Telecommunications withdrew Tuesday the licence from Kosmocell, the company that was chosen in an international tender, and awarded it to Ipkonet, a subsidiary of Telekom Slovenije.
Kosovo regulator Anton Berisha said that "Ipkonet has not yet been granted the licence. For the time being, it is just the best bidder. It will not get the licence until it has paid the fee." Kosovo businessman Ekrem Luka, who owns a major share in the Kosmocell consortium, has, meanwhile, confirmed for the paper that he has failed to pay the licence fee within the 14-day period, while declining to answer other questions.
Luka, who represented the Kosovo cellular operator along with his U.S. partner Computer Science Corp., should have paid the fee by Tuesday, but failed. The reason is that the U.S. company changed its mind and refused to pay some EUR 70 million.
The chairman of Telekom Slovenije Bojan Dremelj has confirmed that the company has in fact been notified of being granted the licence and that it has to pay the licence fee within a fortnight. Slovenias telecom is happy about the news. Its first responsibility now is to pay the fee, while the company is intent on getting down to work at once and doing its best to meet the targets set in it bid.
Telekom Slovenije, its wireless arm Mobitel and Ipkonet are expected to draw out a EUR 75 million cheque to the Kosovo Agency for Telecommunications as early as Wednesday. Ipkonet already holds fixed line and broadband internet licences in the province. If Telekom fails to pay the licence by the deadline, it will be the turn of the third-rated bidder, Mobilkom of Austria, to get the chance to pay it.
The Kosovo Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications published the call for bids in late October, setting EUR 20 million as the lowest price for the 15-year licence. Bidding was open until January 17th. While Kosmocell offered EUR 81 million, Ipkonet bid EUR 75 million and Mobilkom EUR 65 million. The Austrian company was the only one to publicly announce its intention to file a complaint against the selection.
This was the second time Kosovo authorities published a call for tenders for the second mobile licence, with the initial selection process annulled after having been won by Slovenias Mobitel and local partner Mobikos. The reason for the annulment was "serious flaws" in the selection process that were supposedly established in an independent audit. (Finance)