OTE makes play for Forthnet Greece

The battle for control of Greece’s leading alternative fixed line operator continues apace, with OTE joining the fray on Tuesday. The Greek carrier launched a bid of between €250-300m on a debt-free cash-free basis for the pay TV operation, Nova, which is owned by Forthnet.

In a statement Forthnet said its board of directors would evaluate the offer and inform the investing public accordingly.

Just a few weeks ago, Vodafone Greece joined forces with Wind Hellas to try and take control of Forthnet and its pay TV operator Nova.

According to financial statements, Vodafone moved to acquire 14.58 million Forthnet shares belonging to Wind, which would take Vodafone’s stake in Forthnet from 6.5 per cent to 19.75 per cent, while knocking Wind’s ownership down from 33 per cent to just under 20 per cent. With a combined stake of almost 40 per cent, the two are then expected to put pressure on 44 per cent stakeholder Emirates International Telecom (EIT) to sell out.

Both Wind and Vodafone have tried to make buyout attempts separately in recent months but ETI has pushed the price up. Now the Emirates-based investor is in a much weaker position.

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Despite competing, Vodafone Greece and Wind have long collaborated, even being involved in merger discussions in the past. In 2013, the two embarked on an active 2G and 3G network sharing agreement covering rural areas and some urban sites.

The move is typical of Vodafone’s efforts to consolidate European operations on converged networks as it seeks to strengthen its European offerings. But on a wider scale there is also a trend evident of operators seeking to add more strings to their bows with multiplay and converged services of their own.

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