Vodafone, Wind Hellas discuss cooperation

Pressure on the local cell telephony market has reportedly led Vodafone and Wind Hellas to negotiations regarding closer cooperation or a merger.

Parent company Vodafone plc spokesman Simon Gordon told Bloomberg on Monday that ?media reports that Vodafone Group is in discussions to buy Wind Hellas for cash are incorrect. Discussions are at an early stage and there is no certainty as to whether an agreement will be reached.?

The US investors who spent 820 million euros to acquire Wind Hellas last December are now facing additional costs of 300-350 million euros for its evolution, including 130 million for the renewal of frequencies by December and 200 million for the development of fourth-generation (4G) cell telephony networks.

As a result Wind Hellas?s owners are forced to a defensive move. Vodafone had been waiting in the wings for the last couple of years, eyeing Wind?s market share as the sole instrument for increasing its own presence in Greece, as Vodafone holds an estimated 31 percent market share in Greece, against 20 percent held by Wind.

If the two companies merge they would match the market leader, Cosmote, which claims to have 48 percent, although market experts believe it exceeds 50 percent.