Greek full-service telco Wind Hellas, owner of a 33% share in the country’s largest alternative fixed broadband operator by subscribers ForthNet, has agreed to transfer a 13.25% stake in the latter to rival Vodafone Greece, thereby increasing the UK-owned cellco’s ForthNet interest from 6.5% to 19.75% while leaving Wind with an identical stake in the altnet which also includes satellite TV provider Nova. Greek newspaper Ekathimerini writes that Vodafone Greece acquired a call option for the Wind shares (exercisable up to 4 June 2015 but likely to be enacted immediately) for an undisclosed price, and the pair now aim to leverage their near-40% combined stake to ‘put pressure’ on ForthNet’s largest shareholder, Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT), hoping that the Middle Eastern investor will sell its 44% holding at a ‘normal’ price. The report continues that if EIT refuses to sell its stake (partly held via Maltese subsidiary Go), then Wind and Vodafone will aim to join up with ForthNet’s minor shareholders to take overall control of the fixed network and pay-TV group. Ekathimerini adds that there may be time pressure on a deal from ForthNet’s point of view, as it is in urgent need of cash, with expired debts to banks amounting to EUR61.5 million (USD83.4 million) at the end of March.
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