Final Word from Thursday, September 9, 2004





Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka took control of the Český Telecom privatization yesterday. According to ČTK, he'll have three direct representatives on the privatization commission. The National Property Fund, which is also under Sobotka's control, will have another two seats, giving him five seats on the nine-member committee. Sobotka has cultivated the reputation of a no-nonsense minister - which has caused him to fall into disfavor at times with Stanislav Gross - and his usurping of control over the process will likely lead to a boost in Telecom's share price. Not everyone wants Telecom to be sold to the highest bidder in an honest tender, and an intensified effort to compromise the commission and to muddy the waters can now be expected. If Sobotka is able to marginalize these disruptive forces and get a top price for Telecom, he'll be a hero.

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