OTE looks at buying ForthNet/Nova – could enter bid war with Vodafone/Wind

26 Jun 2014

Greek incumbent Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) has revealed that it is in preliminary talks with Middle Eastern-backed Forgendo, the largest (44%) shareholder of alternative telco ForthNet, to buy the latter’s satellite pay-TV division ‘Nova’, reports Reuters. The news sparked speculation that a bidding war may ensue, as rival Vodafone Greece recently acquired an option from fellow minority ForthNet shareholder Wind Hellas to increase the UK-backed cellco’s stake in the altnet to 19.75% (equal to Wind’s holding). OTE, which bundles satellite- and IPTV-based pay-TV channels with its fixed, broadband and mobile (Cosmote) services, disclosed in a filing to the Athens stock exchange that there have been ‘preliminary contacts between OTE and ForthNet’s major shareholder Forgendo Ltd [controlled by Emirates International Telecommunications] regarding the Nova pay-TV operations,’ adding that ‘OTE has been developing its pay-TV operations as it believes that pay-TV is an area with growth potential,’ while the telco, 40% owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, is ‘review[ing] all business options in this direction.’

According to an unconfirmed report by Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, OTE’s head Michalis Tsamaz on Tuesday ‘indirectly confirmed’ that his company was considering making a bid for the entirety of ForthNet, rather than just the Nova division. Tsamaz also noted that the Greek telecoms market is ‘in need’ of further consolidation and that he expects just two or three ‘robust players to remain’ in the long term.

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