VIENNA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Big foreign shareholders in Austrian companies OMV and Telekom Austria could exit agreements with the state following plans by the government to change the way it manages its holdings, a senior official said.
Siegfried Wolf, the chairman of state holding company OIAG, made the comments in an interview with magazine News while defending OIAG’s record. The Austrian government plans to replace the agency, in a move that will tighten the state’s grip on partly government-owned companies.
Abu Dhabi’s IPIC wealth fund owns just under 25 percent in OMV, while Carlos Slim’s America Movil owns a majority of Telekom Austria. Both have pacts with the state and call themselves long-term investors.
Wolf said the new agency changed the circumstances of original agreements, and so pacts could be terminated.
“There are possible scenarios. The partners could get out under certain circumstances. It seems this is not clear to everyone,” Wolf said.
He said IPIC could exercise a put option under some circumstances. “The question is: will the state jump in and buy IPIC’s quarter stake of OMV for 1.8 billion euros ($2.1 billion) if (IPIC) leaves given the new situation?”
For Telekom Austria, he cited the danger that the state would have to take back around 5,000 bureaucrats who work for the company should the state’s stake fall below 25 percent from 28.4 percent now.
$1 = 0.8634 euros Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Potter