BUSINESS

Bid for Forthnet lags expectation

By Vangelis Mandravelis

Forthnet’s shareholders were not satisfied by the offer submitted on Thursday by Vodafone and Wind Hellas to buy out the shares they do not already own.

The offer by the two mobile network operators that between them hold 39.5 percent of Forthnet came in response to OTE’s bid for Forthnet’s pay-TV operation (Nova).

Vodafone and Wind offered between 1.70 and 1.90 euros per share, which would bring the telecommunications company’s price to between 190 and 210 million euros on the stock market. Adding Forthnet’s net borrowing, amounting to 320 million, would take its enterprise value to just over half a billion euros.

The price bid by the two companies is at the year-high of the stock’s price and includes a premium of 55 to 72 percent on the average stock price in the last six months (1.09 euros). Forthnet’s stock declined 2.65 percent to 1.65 euros on Thursday.

The proposal by Vodafone and Wind is nonbinding and concerns all of the company’s shares that they do not currently possess (60.5 percent), but it does not constitute a public offering according to law. The two companies appear to be seeking a 50-50 share of Forthnet.

Forthnet’s main shareholder, Arab-controlled Forgendo Ltd, looks to be in no rush to accept the offer. According to the bid, Forgendo would get 82 to 92 million euros – less than half the money the Arab firm has spent since 2008 build its 44 percent stake in the company. Of course it is much more than what Dutch-owned Cyrte Investments received last year when it sold its 27 percent stake in Forthnet to Wind, which was just 3.5 million euros. Today that stake is valued at 50 million euros.

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