CosmOTE wants to buy its parent’s subsidiaries

Mobile operator CosmOTE said yesterday it would like to acquire parent OTE Telecom’s mobile operations in Bulgaria and the Former Yugslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) this year if OTE is willing to sell. «It is our intention to acquire Globul and MTS in 2003… In order to achieve this within this year, collaboration among all parties involved is also needed,» CosmOTE’s chief executive Evangelos Martigopoulos said. Martigopoulos was confirming comments made on Friday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. New strategy CosmOTE, which is 59-percent owned by OTE, last year took over the management of the two companies as part of a new group strategy to have the successful Greek mobile operator manage all the group’s mobile assets abroad. CosmOTE officials said the company’s intention of buying the two companies at some stage in the future was a logical extension to taking over management. OTE officials could not be immediately reached for comment. The national operator’s board of directors meets today to discuss a variety of issues, including Globul and MTS. OTE hopes that CosmOTE, its most profitable asset, can emulate its home market success story in the Balkans and, perhaps, avoid its own costly mistakes, especially in Romania and Armenia. CosmOTE, a market latecomer, came from behind to snare the number-one spot in Greece from companies backed by heavyweights like Vodafone’s Panafon and Telecom Italia’s Stet Hellas. Globul, Bulgaria’s second digital mobile telephony operator, launched operations in mid-September 2001 after OTE bought a 15-year license for $135 million a year earlier. Globul’s subscriber numbers, which have risen to 330,000 in the past year, are expected to top 500,000 in early 2003. It competes with Mobiltel, Bulgaria’s biggest mobile operator, which expects to have 1.8 million clients at the end of this year. FYROM network OTE won a tender to run a second mobile phone network in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia late last year, paying $25 million for a 22-year license. It has yet to begin operations there. Apart from Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, OTE has mobile interests in Romania, Armenia and Serbia. CosmOTE also has an 85-percent stake in Albanian operator AMC. (Reuters)

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