The prepping of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) for privatisation is at an advanced stage, Privatisations Commissioner Constandinos Herodotou said on Tuesday.
The first phase involves converting the semi-state telecoms company into a private corporation with the state as the only shareholder, followed by the tender notice.
Only those assets deemed essential for the operation of a new telecoms company will be put up for bid, Herodotou told the state broadcaster.
“This will be the ‘new CyTA’, and there will also be the ‘old CyTA’,” he explained.
Fixed assets, such as buildings, deemed non-essential for creating the new company would not be put up for bid.
This would be done for two reasons: firstly, to encourage strategic investors to bid only for those assets they are interested in and, secondly, to avoid selling those non-essential assets on the cheap.
At the moment, added Herodotou, no talks whatsoever are ongoing with potential private investors.
Moreover, every move in the privatization process – such as the sale of assets – will require an act of parliament.
And the plan guarantees job security for all CyTA workers, Herodotou said.
CyTA is one of a number of state-owned enterprises slated for privatization, as part of a €10bn bailout deal between Cyprus and international lenders.
The organisation has been one of the biggest dividend earners of the state in past decades, but also an inefficient company burdened with staff hired by pressure from all political parties and ruling government.
Meanwhile main opposition party AKEL, which is extremely hostile to the privatization agenda overall, declared a priori on Tuesday that it will vote down any privatization legislation that comes to parliament.
“With each passing day, it is confirmed that the government is bent on selling off public wealth,” AKEL MP Stavros Evagorou said.
Also on Tuesday, the OIO-SEK trade union, representing workers in semi-governmental organizations, released a statement calling for a “structured political dialogue” on privatisations.
The union proposed a colloquium where politicians, unions and CyTA management would share their thoughts on the issue.
“By elucidating the views and intentions of all the involved parties, this will minimize the risk of leaving the matter for discussion at the last hour, acting under stifling pressure, as was the case in the recent past (insolvency framework, Cyprus Airways, etc.),” the union said.