The deal for the acquisition of a 33% stake in Forthnet between the BC Partners investment group and the creditor banks of the Greek telecommunications company was all but sealed on Friday, with the only issue still pending being the bridge funding of 15 million euros from the British group to Forthnet for the period until the acquisition is approved by the competition authorities. BC Partners will now likely turn its attention to Wind Hellas.
The takeover of Forthnet, which operates satellite TV platform Nova, will be examined by the European competition watchdog, as it concerns cross-border concentration due to the fact that Forthnet will likely come under the control of BC Partners’ subsidiary United Corp. Given that Forthnet’s market share in the overall telecoms market in Greece is quite low, and that United’s presence is zero in this country, it seems likely that the approval won’t take long.
Although the details of the agreement are not yet known, the structure of the deal between Forthnet’s creditors and BC Partners will be such that will not force United to submit a public offering for the acquisition of the minority stakes in Forthnet. Contrary to what was recently reported, BC Partners will likely buy a smaller stake than 33.4%, and later go on to match the banks’ 36% stake.
The completion of Forthnet’s takeover will now open the way for the second target of BC Partners in Greece, which is cellphone and triple-play network Wind Hellas. The investment company has made no secret of that intention and even made an effort to acquire Wind last December; it failed to do so then as the price it offered the network’s stakeholders was below their expectations.
Now that Wind’s owners – GoldenTree Asset Management and Cyrus Capital Partners – wish to divest from Wind, it is certain they will return to the negotiating table with BC Partners. The London-based group does not want to become the fourth player in Greece, but the third. Even so, Wind will not be the easy rival of previous years, as its improved finances will allow its owners to raise their price from December.