Vodafone Greece targets multiplay with Hellas Online acquisition

Vodafone Greece has moved closer to becoming a multiplay service provider by acquiring 72.7% of Hellas Online (HOL), the country’s second largest broadband and fixed-line services provider. The mobile operator acquired Hellas Online for a total cash sum of €72.7m (£57.56m).

As a result of the acquisition, Vodafone Greece now owns 91.2% of HOL following its purchase of 18.5% of the company in 2009. Consequently, the MNO is obliged to complete the 100% takeover of Hellas. The value of the transaction comes in at €100m, and the total value comes in at €311m when considering HOL’s net debt of €211m.

According to Ovum’s World Cellular Information Service, Vodafone Greece is the country’s second largest mobile player, in terms of market share. At 32.05% as of September 2014, the MNO has been slowly making up ground on Cosmote, which currently serves 46.83% of the market. Since September 2012, Vodafone’s share has risen from 27.91%, while Cosmote’s market share has declined from 50.59%, so a change in the tides may be in the offing if the trend continues.

When the announcement of Vodafone’s agreement to acquire Hellas Online came in August, it cited one very distinct motivating factor for the acquisition, being the facilitation of Vodafone’s converged unified communications. At the time, the company announced the acquisition will accelerate its move in the fixed broadband market.

“The transaction creates a leading integrated telecom operator in Greece with the number two market position by revenues in both fixed-line and mobile communications,” it said. “The combined company will have the scale, management expertise, products and services and funding needed to compete more effectively in the Greek telecommunications market.”

Telco consolidation has been a hot topic of late, with talk of BT’s intent to move back into the mobile market in the UK. Paul Lambert, senior analyst at Ovum believes a converged, multiplay market environment is becoming increasingly likely with potential to severely disrupt the market dynamic.

“A successful re-entry to the mobile market by BT would not just mean a change in ownership of the acquired operator; it would cause a fundamental shift in the UK telecoms and – given BT’s premium sports offering – the UK TV market,” he said. “For UK consumers the move would be felt most noticeably around increasing competition among offers that bundle a range of broadband and telephony services with content, which would likely lead to lower prices, as operators discount their tariffs to attract customers, especially over the near term.

Given Vodafone’s announced intention to provide converged services in Greece, one would be forgiven for making the assumption a similar circumstance may be close to unfolding.

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