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Ex-US secretary of state Albright may buy Kosovo Telecom

A company led by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, one of the key promoters of Kosovo’s independence, has qualified to bid to buy Kosovo Telecom (PTK), an official said Wednesday.

Washington-based investment company Albright Capital Management (ACM), in consortium with Portugal Telecom, has shown interest in bidding for privatisation of one Kosovo’s biggest public companies, said Arsim Brucaj of the Ministry for Economic Development.

“The aforementioned company, as well as four others, has fulfilled all required conditions” ahead of the tender for the PTK, which was expected to be called “very soon,” Brucaj told AFP.

Among them were consortiums led by British Telecom Poland and Turkish mobile operator Turkcell.

Kosovo’s government hopes to earn 300 million euros ($400 million) from the sale of 75 percent of PTK. The company reports average annual revenue of about 150 million euros.

Albright is well-known in the region as she strongly favoured a NATO air campaign against Belgrade security forces loyal to late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic which fought against independence seeking ethnic Albanian guerrilla forces in the 1998-1999 Kosovo war.

Serbia strongly opposes Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 which has been recognised by some 90 countries.

Belgrade still considers the territory its southern province and has already contested Pristina’s bid to privatise the PTK.

Serbia insists that former PTK employees — many of them Serbs who have fled Kosovo since the end of the war there — have a right to claim the company’s assets and warned it would ask international courts to block any share purchases, Aleksandar Vulin, top Serbia’s official for Kosovo, said recently.

Albright is not the first former US official showing interest in investing in Kosovo. In June, a company led by former US army general Wesley Clark, who led the 1999 NATO campaign, applied for a licence to explore Kosovo’s coal resources for possible production of synthetic fuel.