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The United Group continues to attack Telekom under the disguise of the purported care about the interests of citizens
Foto: Zorana Jevtić, Printscreen, Marina Lopičić, Shutterstock

DAMAGING

The United Group continues to attack Telekom under the disguise of the purported care about the interests of citizens

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Vice-President of Đilas's party Marinika Tepić, a representative of the political wing of the interest-business lobby, made a number of provisional and false accusations against Telekom, inflicting damage on this company and Serbia’s citizens.

The attack of the powerful United Group on Telekom Serbia continues through the representative of the political wing of the interest-business lobby, to the determent of all citizens of Serbia. This is how one can characterise the yesterday’s conference of Marinika Tepić, the Vice-President of the Party of Freedom and Justice of Dragan Đilas, who, by criticising Telekom, put forward a number of provisional claims, unverified information, and even lies.

It is indicative that Tepić attacked Telekom along the same lines as the United Group has been doing for longer time already. Through the media in its network, the United Group is openly attacking this state-owned company, only because in the past two years Telekom became its worthy competitor in the regional market, which is something Kurir has already written about.

A lie about the company value

During the conference lasting for half an hour, at which she requested the formation of an expert commission to supervise the operation of Telekom, Tepić put forward a number of provisional statements and untrue information, including that the management of Telekom stated that the company is worth four billion euros.

foto: Zorana Jevtić

– I found out that Telekom’s management are lying when they say that the company is worth four billion euros, as in the meantime the party and brethren management has eaten up Telekom. It now not worth a single euro – said Tepić.

However, this is an absolute lie as Telekom’s management have never stated that the company is worth four billion euros, but that it is yet to reach this value, once investments pay off. The relevance of the claim “that this company is not worth a single euro” is not worth being even spoken about.

The proof that Marinika’s statements are untrue is the statement of Vladimir Lučić, a coordinator for the internet and multimedia of the Telekom Serbia group, who in July this year very precisely said that this company could in future reach the value of four billion euros.

– The effects of our turnabouts will be seen already this year, and the years 2021 to 2023 are to experience a vigorous rise in profitability. All this leads to the increase in the value of the company, which, I am certain, will equal more than four billion euros in 2023 as EBITDA will exceed 700 million euros, which ensures to Telekom Serbia an excellent future – said Lučić.

Not a word about the conflict of interests

It is interesting that in her attacks on the operation of Telekom, Tepić referred to the statements of Jelisaveta Vasilić, a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, who has been pursuing, for days, a negative campaign against Telekom through televisions owned by the United Group. However, the Vice-President of Đilas’s party failed to say that Vasilić, in respect of whom Kurir revealed that she is in a potential conflict of interests as her daughter is in a business relationship with the United Group, was giving statements not on behalf of the Council, but in her personal name, which was confirmed by Council’s Vice-President Miroslav Milićević. Also, it was not mentioned that the report about Telekom’s operation, compiled by Vasilić, was returned to be amended after three Council’s members voted against its adoption.

For weeks already, Kurir has been exploring what is hidden behind the attacks of the United Group and its media outlets on Telekom Serbia. We also found out about suspicious transactions between Dragan Đilas, the PFJ leader, and President of the United Group Dragan Šolak. This is why we asked Marinika Tepić whether her conference’s aim is that we stop writing about these links. However, she refused to give a precise answer, saying, among other things, that she “does not know what we engage in, but that she supports any research that we wish to objectively carry out”. Unequal standards

Moreover, as she expressed all criticism of Telekom under the disguise of the purported care about citizens, and claims that Telekom belongs to all citizens of Serbia, we asked her whether the constant attacks of the United Group on Telekom are in the interest of citizens, which are aimed at weakening this company. However, once again, Tepić did not give a direct answer, but said: “I am someone who cares about Telekom and you should care as well”.

Using data provisionally, tendentiously and omitting important facts, Marinika Tepić simply copied the model of the attacks of the United Group on Telekom. As Kurir has already written, through its media outlets, this company was applying unequal standards when reporting about Telekom’s operation. When they criticised Telekom of being in a deficit due to the purchase of cable operators, the United Group was omitting the fact known even to those untrained in economics – investments do not pay off immediately, time is needed instead. The paradox is even greater – while speaking about its operation and the incurred debts, the United Group justifies itself with the same arguments which it refutes in respect of Telekom – it is saying that the losses they incurred result from acquisitions and investments as the Group was expanding, which will pay off later.

Make believe

They keep talking about Telekom, but remain silent on the United Group’s debts

While the media under the auspices of the United Group and members of political options, who are always trying to protect the business interests of this company, with the leading role played by Đilas’s closest associates, keep talking about the operation of Telekom, accusing it of losses and a reduction in the company value, none of them is mentioning the operation of the United Group, to which Telekom is the main competitor. The data obtained by Kurir show that this company incurred a loss of 60 million euros in 2019, while in early 2020 the United Group reached the record debt of three billion euros, which is almost three times higher than Telekom’s debt.

Suspicious operation

Đilas’s and Šolak’s transactions

foto: Promo

For the sake of reminder, in its yesterday’s issue, Kurir revealed that there are suspicious business relations and jobs worth millions between Dragan Đilas, the leader of the Party of Freedom and Justice, and Dragan Šolak, the President of the United Group. The former Đilas’s company “Direct Media”, as we published, ended up in the ownership of Dragan Šolak and the United Group, four years after it was sold to controversial Bulgarian businessman Kresimir Gergov. A similar destiny befell the building in Antifašističke Borbe Street in Belgrade, which Šolak, through a company in which he hid ownership, bought from Đilas’s “Multikom Group”. Yesterday, we asked the question whether the EBRD, BC Partners and other owners in the United Group know about these business relations between Đilas and Šolak.

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