BUSINESS

HOL and Cyta likely to merge with bigger telecom players

By Vangelis Mandravelis

The telecommunications market in Greece is abuzz with developments as judgment day looms for some of the industry’s main players. This mainly concerns companies currently operating on a razor’s edge such as Hellas Online (HOL) and Cyta Hellas.

Telecom provider Hellas Online is reported to be very close to a buyout by Vodafone, while Cyta Hellas is expected to start the search for a “white knight” soon. This will be followed by the ultimate clash, between Wind Hellas and Vodafone, for control of Forthnet.

Sources say that Vodafone and its majority stakeholder Intracom Holdings have agreed on a price for the Hellas Online transaction, which will likely be completed via a public bid by Vodafone not only for the majority stake that Intracom Holdings has in HOL (57 percent) but also the minority stakes in the company. Vodafone aims to gain 100 percent control of HOL so as to have it delisted from the Athens stock exchange. That will not be easy, as it requires control of 95 percent of a listed company’s share capital for it to be taken off the Greek bourse.

Cyta Hellas tried on Wednesday to contain the impact of statements made by Christos Patsalides, president of the parent company in Cyprus. Addressing the Cypriot Parliament’s Financial Affairs Committee, the Cyta head said the Greek subsidiary would either be sold, would continue autonomously or be shut down. Patsalides reportedly added that these options would be examined and decisions made in the next 18 months.

In its statement on Wednesday, Cyta Hellas spoke of a commitment in its support by the parent company until at least 2016.

The Greek subsidiary is loss-making, as are most of its competitors, but has a client base of some 300,000 consumers that would constitute a great target for Vodafone and Wind Hellas.

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