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Weather moves in on Greece

Greek mobile operator TIM Hellas has been snapped up by Orascom head honcho Naguib Sawiris’ private-equity vehicle, Weather Investments, for a hefty Eur3.6bn.

Weather bought the third place Greek operator from equity firms Texas Pacific Group and Apax Partners, which initially acquired TIM Hellas from Telecom Italia in June 2005 for Eur1.6bn.

The sale price includes Eur2.9bn of debt, plus Eur500m of equity, which will be financed via loans from Citibank, Banca IMI and Deutsche Bank.

Giancarlo Aliberti, managing director of Apax Partners Italy, who led the deal said “This is a very pleasing result for our investors as well as the management and employees of TIM Hellas. Management did a great job in reversing a very serious downward trend of operational performance we found when we acquired the company. The subsequent combination of TIM Hellas with Q-Telecom contributed in a second stage to create a strong company with excellent long-term prospects.”

TIM Hellas was the third largest operator in Greece at the end of 2006, with 2.74 million subscribers, behind market leader Cosmote, which had 5.15 million subscribers, and Panafon, which had 3.97 million. Fourth placed Q-Telecom is also owned by Texas Pacific and Apax and has 1.06 million GSM customers.

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