* Court orders Kosovo Telecom to pay 30 mln eur to smaller
* The new country faces more arbitration court decisions
* Kosovo remains one of the poorest countries in Europe
By Fatos Bytyci
PRISTINA, Dec 21 State-owned Kosovo Telcom might
face bankruptcy after an arbitration court ruled it would have
to pay 29.6 million euros ($30.8 million) to local mobile
telecoms service provider Z-mobile for breach of contract, its
chief executive said on Wednesday.
Agron Mustafa said his company would appeal against the case
and asked the government for help following the decision by the
London Court of International Arbitration.
Once the country's most profitable state-owned company,
Kosovo Telecom suffered a 63 percent drop in net profits in 2015
to 6 million euros ($6.2 million).
"This is one of the most dangerous decisions taken by a
court at the expense of Kosovo Telecom and seriously threatens
the future of the corporation - even with bankruptcy," Mustafa
said in an email to Reuters.
Privately held Z-mobile won a contract in 2008 as a mobile
virtual network operator to use Kosovo Telecom's network and
technology but complained that the state company did not issue
sufficient SIM cards and has refused to offer 3G and 4G mobile
No one at Z-mobile could be reached for immediate comment.
Kosovo Telecom employs some 2,300 people and is the
country's biggest mobile phone services provider with a 54
percent market share. Z-mobile has around 8 percent of the
country's 1.88 million mobile subscribers.
The second-largest mobile operator is IPKO, owned by Telekom
Slovenije, with a 38 percent market share.
Kosovo abandoned an attempt to privatise Kosovo Telecom in
2013 when its parliament blocked a sale to German telecoms and
technology investment firm ACP Axos Capital Gmbh and U.S.-based
investor Najafi Companies for 277 million euros.
A previous group of would-be investors walked away when
corruption charges were filed against Kosovo Telecom managers
and directors. The people were later cleared of the charges.
Axos is suing Kosovo's government over the failed sale and
local media say it may win between 50 and 100 million euros from
one of Europe's poorest countries.
($1 = 0.9613 euros)
(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Georgina Prodhan, Greg