ECONOMY

Vodafone desires takeover

Vodafone Panafon yesterday said it hoped UK mobile phone operator and majority stakeholder Vodafone will take full control of the Greek mobile phone operator, although it does not have any indications of such intentions. The UK company yesterday announced plans to buy outstanding shares in Vodafone Libertel of the Netherlands, Portugal’s Vodafone Telecel and Europolitan Vodafone in Sweden for a total of 2 billion euros. It ruled out any similar offer for Vodafone Panafon in which it holds a 63-percent stake and Greek IT and telecoms equipment manufacturer Intracom a 9.4-percent share. «We hope Vodafone will eventually take over the company,» Giorgos Koronias, chief executive of Vodafone Panafon, told Kathimerini English Edition. «We don’t know when and if this will happen but it will be good for the company.» Vodafone Panafon shares took a 4.7-percent dive on news of the UK operator’s decision not to expand its Greek stake. It later recovered, posting a 2.56-percent drop to close at 5.32 euros. The company stepped up the pace of competition with rival CosmOTE as it launched a new Internet-based service targeted at the Internet-savvy 18-34 age group yesterday. Called Vodafone live, the new service allows users to download data, ringtones, messages and games at rapid speed. It has already garnered 380,000 subscribers since its launch in October in seven European countries. The service, accessible only via three handsets – Panasonic GD87, Sharp GX10 and Nokia 7650 – for the moment in Greece, will be offered free of charge up to March 31. Rates will then be based on the data or game downloaded, ranging from 20 cents to five euros. Some 30 content providers have been signed up. More handsets are expected to be available in the summer.