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Telekom Austria CEO Accuses EU's Viviane Reding of Communist Tendencies

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Telekom Austria's CEO, Boris Nemsic has accused the regulatory regime in Europe as being worse than that in a repressive Communist state. Speaking to the Financial Times newspaper, he said "We have been much better treated in Belarus than in Brussels. That's not a political statement. That's a business statement,"

He was responding to yet more calls from EU telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding for more cuts in overseas roaming costs, specifically n text messaging and data tariffs.

Mr Nemsic, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, said the Commission's moves to establish retail price controls reminded him of communism. "I lived under communism and I hated regulated prices," he said.

The principal users of cross-border telecoms services were not tourists but business people. Making decisions on the basis of "extreme cases" of holidaymakers running up big bills made for "bad policy", Mr Nemsic said.

He made clear in the interview that he was happy with the way the authorities in Belarus have treated the company since its acquisition of a 70% stake in the local GSM network, MDC for EUR730 million (USD1.04 billion). Telekom Austria also has a call and put option agreement related to the remaining 30% stake exercisable in the fourth quarter 2010 for approximately EUR 320 million (US$454 million) - depending on performance.

MDC, which markets its mobile communication services under the brand names "Velcom" for postpaid services and "Privet" for prepaid services, is the number 2 operator in Belarus with a market share of approximately 42% and more than 2.7 million customers in a market that reached a penetration of 66% as of June 30, 2007.

On the web: Financial Times

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Tags: roaming  text messaging  eu  telekom austria  boris nemsic  option  Belarus