Telekom Austria is concerned that it may be the target of a hostile takeover bid from an Egyptian businessman and has asked investment bank Merrill Lynch to help mount its defences, an Austrian newspaper said.
Citing unnamed sources, daily Wirtschaftsblatt said Naguib Sawiris, owner of Egypt's Orascom Telecom , was interested in the company and could try to mount a bid via Austrian investor Ronny Pecik.
"Telekom is worried about a hostile takeover," one source was quoted as saying in the newspaper's Monday edition.
Telekom Austria and Orascom officials were not immediately available for comment. Pecik was also not available but was quoted by Wirtschaftsblatt as denying the report.
Telekom Austria shares were trading 2.2 per cent higher by 0932 GMT, while the European telecoms index was down 1.4 per cent.
Telekom Austria could widen its share buyback programme or look for a "white knight" investor to fend off the unwanted advances, Wirtschaftsblatt said, adding that a contract would be signed with Merrill Lynch in the next few days.
It said possible white knight investors could include Spain's Telefonica, Russia's VimpelCom, Norway's Telenor or Turkey's Turkcell.
Last month Telekom Austria said it had not been informed of any new investor groups building a stake in the company after a report that a group led by Pecik and including Sawiris aimed to build a share of around 20 per cent.