Telefonica loosens grip on Czech holdings

Czech financial group PPF is due to take over a majority stake in Telefonica Czech Republic telecom from its indebted Spanish parent, the Czech News Agency (CTK) reported on Monday.

Telefonica loosens grip on Czech holdings
The iconic Telefonica building in Madrid. Photo: Javier Paredes

Citing well-informed sources, CTK said the deal should be signed on Monday or by November 11th.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that the value of the 69-percent stake was €2.5 billion ($3.4 billion).

Owned by the wealthiest Czech, Petr Kellner, PPF has led exclusive talks with Spain's Telefonica on the takeover in recent weeks, the Financial Times said.

News about Telefonica's plan to sell its Czech unit first surfaced two months ago.

Telefonica Czech Republic runs almost seven million mobile and fixed phone lines in the EU member of 10.5 million people.

It earned net profits worth €262 million ($354 million) on almost €2 billion in sales last year, its annual report said.

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There are still 16,000 public telephones in Spain

Spain has a law to provide at least one payphone for every 3,000 inhabitants, even though an average of one call a day is made from them.

There are still 16,000 public telephones in Spain
Photo: pawpopa3336/Depositphotos

New data reveals that Spain currently has over 16,000 public payphone dotted around the length of breadth of Spain even though an average of one call a day is made from them.

Telefonica sources cited by news agency Efe revealed that Spain's biggest telecommunications company currently spends €4.52 million a year maintaining the phone booths.

Despite the fact that they are rarely used, Telefonica is tied to a “universal service obligation” imposed by the government to provide and maintain in working order a public payphone for every 3,000 inhabitants in each town of 1,000 or more and one cabin in all municipalities of less than 1,000 inhabitants.

The company estimates that of the 16,000 currently in use, half are almost never used and 12,000 ceased to be profitable years ago, losing the company some €3 million  a year.

The number of payphones has been vastly reduced since the  introduction of mobile phones. Twenty years ago there were almost four times as many payphones across Spain  –  55,000 payphones available in 1999 – and you could expect to find one on many a street corner.

Spain's communications regulator CNMC has called on the government to drop the universal service obligation for public payphones after a recent survey found that nearly 9 in 10 Spaniards (88 percent) admitted to never having used a public payphone in their life.

When was the last time you used one?

READ ALSO: Could technology be killing off Spain's sociable mealtimes?