BUSINESS

OTE prepares bid for Forthnet’s TV platform Nova

By Vangelis Mandravelis

The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) is preparing a bid for the buyout of alternative telecom provider Forthnet – owner of pay-TV platform Nova – and OTE head Michalis Tsamaz on Tuesday indirectly confirmed that the country’s dominent industry player is interested in Forthnet.

Addressing the group’s general meeting, its chairman and chief executive said that OTE is “assessing the situation” at Forthnet and “is conducting the necessary contacts,” which confirms reports that OTE is in talks with a foreign lender in order to make a bid for Forthnet, which is 44 percent-owned by an Arab fund and just under 40 percent-controlled by OTE’s rivals Vodafone and Wind Hellas.

Tsamaz also noted that the local telecoms market is in need of further concentration and that he expects just two or three robust players to remain. Strong groups need to follow OTE’s example and invest in growth, he added.

All signs are pointing to OTE expressing a particular interest in the future of the subscription-based satellite services of Nova supplied by Forthnet. This way OTE will be targeting a rapid increase in the subscription base of Nova’s rival OTE TV while depriving Vodafone and Wind Hellas of an easy entry into the entertainment content market, which promises much greater profit margins compared to the relatively saturated fields of telephony and Internet.

Benefiting the most from the growth in suitors for Forthnet’s dowry is Emirates Telecommunications International (ETI), which is watching Forthnet stock soar following an extended slump. During Tuesday’s local bourse session Forthnet enjoyed gains of 20 percent, while the benchmark posted a 2.1 percent drop.

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