More than a year since an initial agreement was struck, Hungarian Telephone and Cable Corporation (HTTC) has finally closed the acquisition of alternative telco PanTel from KPN. The expanded HTTC Group now consists of Hungarotel – the dominant telco in five of Hungary’s 50 telecom areas – PanTel and PanTel Technocom – an outsourcing entity that provides full telecom services for Hungary’s largest company, oil and gas giant Mol.
Commenting to the Budapest Business Journal, Torben V. Holm – formerly of TDC and set to take over as HTCC’s CEO from July 1 – claimed that after the acquisition HTCC “is now clearly the leading challenger to Magyar Telekom, not in terms of size but in terms of footprint”. Although Hungarotel has suffered declining revenues recently, PanTel has become increasingly profitable and Holm stated that he expects HTCC to gain new momentum as a result of the merger by expanding its residential offering to all of Hungary.
Rivals have however remained largely unperturbed. Fixed line operator Invitel is the dominant operator in nine service areas with a nationwide fibre-optic network and revenues significantly larger than that of the new HTTC. Even so, neither HTTC nor Invitel have a mobile arm, something which helps keep former incumbent Magyar Telekom (via T-Mobile Hungary) in front of the chasing pack. Invitel declined to bid for a 3G licence last year, citing unfavourable economic conditions. HTTC did submit a bid but failed after refusing to pay the same price for the licence as the established mobile operators. Nevertheless, Holm stressed how important HTTC views entry to the mobile market, saying “it’s important for us to get a mobile arm in our operation – somehow, sometime”.