Kosovo wins arbitration court case over state telecom sale

Kosovo said on Friday it had won a case in a U.S. arbitration court in Washington against a German investment company that sought up to 400 million euros (353 million pounds) in compensation over the suspension of a state-owned telecom sale.

Germany's ACP Axos Capital Gmbh emerged as the top bidder in a 2013 tender, offering to buy a 75-percent stake of Kosovo Telecom for 277 million euros. But the sale was blocked by the country's parliament as the government failed to secure the majority needed for final approval of the sale.

"Kosovo will always welcome foreign investments but will not allow it to be misused as a state," Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci said in a statement. Thaci was the prime minister at that time.

"All the arguments in the Axos case were in our favor."

Once the country's most profitable state-owned company, Kosovo Telecom suffered a steep drop in profit, amid inefficiencies and rising competition from Kosovo's second-largest mobile operator IPKO, owned by Telekom Slovenije <TLSG.LJ>.

Last month PTK asked the government for 60 million euros to pay creditors or else face bankruptcy.

PTK reported a 4 million euro loss for the first three months of this year. It has not published figures for 2017, but its 2016 loss was estimated by company executives at 50 million euros.

The government plans to privatize the company in two years, once it has returned to profit.

The Republic of 1.8 million people has not been able to attract foreign investment to combat poverty. Corruption, organized crime and political instability are cited by foreign companies as the main obstacles. /Reuters