Czech O2 to Renew iPhones Sales After Refusing to Stock Apple Devices in 2011

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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By Leos Rousek

PRAGUE--O2 Czech Republic AS (BAATELEC.PR) will begin selling iPhone smartphones at its stores, ending a nearly three- year ban on stocking devices of Apple Inc. ( AAPL ), the country's number one cellular operator by clients said Wednesday.

"O2 has become a partner of Apple for distribution of iPhones and therefore new models will be available for our customers the same day they're officially imported to the Czech Republic," the cellular operator said.

O2 and its predecessor Telefonica Czech Republic AS have been at loggerheads with Apple since late 2011 over the terms, centered on mandatory sales volumes and promotional offers, for iPhone sales at the O2-branded shops and its online store. The company instead has focused on offering smartphones based on rival operating systems, such as Google Inc.'s ( GOOGL ) Android or Microsoft Corp's ( MSFT ) Windows Phone.

O2 says iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c models will on offer as of Friday.

Apple doesn't comment on contracts with cellular operators in individual markets. O2 officials declined to comment on details of their contract with Apple.

In January PPF Group NV, the Czech financial group owned by billionaire Petr Kellner, bought the 65.9% stake in the Czech unit of Spain's Telefonica SA (TEF) for 2.06 billion euros ($2.81 billion) outright for the majority stake and an additional EUR303 million over the following four years.

Since then PPF approved the renaming of its largest telecommunications asset to O2 Czech Republic, based on an agreement with Telefonica for the use of its brand the Spanish company uses on other markets in Europe.

Last month PPF Group NV approved a 295.15 koruna($14.68) offer for each outstanding share of O2 Czech Republic.

The offer, currently under consideration by the O2's minority shareholders, is below the purchase price of CZK305.63 per share PPF Group paid for the majority stake in O2.

Write to Leos Rousek at leos.rousek@wsj.com

Go to http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope for the new WSJ and Dow Jones blog on Central and Eastern Europe, covering business, politics, society and more, written by our correspondents across the region.

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  06-25-141140ET
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