On Wednesday it was reported that Deutsche Telekom AG (Bonn, Germany) has expressed interest to the Belgian government in acquiring a stake in Belgacom SA (Brussels, Belgium). The Belgian government is Belgacom’s largest shareholder.
Deutsche Telekom approached the Belgian government in the first few months of the year to see if it was planning to sell part of its 53.5% stake, the Belgian French-language paper said, citing an unnamed source.
Belgium's politicians are still trying to hammer out the terms of a coalition government more than a year after parliamentary elections, and Deutsche Telecom was told to come back when the political situation had stabilized, the paper said.
Privatizing the former state monopoly is controversial in Belgium but the government said in 2008 it had no objections in principle to lowering its stake.
Belgium needs to trim its national debt, which is about the same as its annual output. Last week caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme cut the country's deficit forecast for 2011 to 3.3% from 3.6% of GDP.
Belgacom's mobile phone division Proximus is the market leader in Belgium, while Deutsche Telekom operates under the brand name T-Mobile.
Deutsche Telekom declined to comment on the report.
(Reporting by Ben Deighton in Brussels and Peter Maushagen in Frankfurt; Editing by David Holmes and Erica Billingham)