Belgacom CEO suggests smaller government stake

117

Didier Bellens points out state could keep control of incumbent telco with 40% stake.

Belgium’s government could sell a sizeable stake in Belgacom SA without giving up control, the chief executive of the telecoms operator said in comments published Wednesday, reopening a debate over whether the state should offload more shares.

Speaking to reporters in Los Angeles, Belgacom CEO Didier Bellens said Belgium “can always keep control of Belgacom with 40%” of its shares, far below its current 53.5% holding, Belgian newspaper L’Echo reported.

A spokesman for Belgacom said Mr. Bellens was speaking generally about possible future events. The government plans to sell EUR1 billion ($1.3 billion) of state-owned assets this year to help repair its finances.

Belgacom’s share price is hovering around all-time lows and the dividends are a reliable source of income for the government.