ECONOMY

Family’s media exodus

An agreement to sell publisher Pegasus to business tycoon Theodoros Angelopoulos might lead to internal restructuring in the Hellenic Technodomiki-Aktor-TEV construction group but will otherwise have a limited effect on the construction sector. The likely sale of Pegasus would mark the exit of the Bobolas family from the media in order to concentrate on construction; this would be a result of a law, not yet passed by Parliament, which essentially prohibits media owners and their relatives from bidding for state contracts. Some analysts have assumed that the Hellenic Technodomiki-Aktor-TEV group, its liquidity boosted by the sale, will expand its domination of the construction market through acquisitions. Others, however, believe this prediction is flawed. «The Hellenic Technodomiki-Aktor-TEV group has enough firms to bid successfully for the coming public projects,» they claim. Moreover, «in present circumstances, very few construction firms are attractive acquisition targets as most of them are heavily indebted and are involve in loss-making projects,» they say. Few take seriously the rumors concerning the acquisition of AEGEK or some other listed construction firm by Hellenic Technodomiki TEV. «Why should someone acquire AEGEK when its liabilities are close to 350 million euros?» a sector insider demands. However, «the fact that construction and similar activities will, from now on, be the one central business of the Bobolas family may upset the balance of power within the construction group,» he adds. Where will the family invest the 150-170 million euros it will earn from the sale of its stake in Pegasus? A part, at least, will go to construction, even though Aktor’s domination of the sector in recent years has allowed the group to amass vast cash reserves, especially compared with most of its competitors. The difficult financial situation of most of the other listed firms will facilitate the group’s plans. This is why the family has preferred to retire from the media. The Hellenic Technodomiki-Aktor-TEV group is one of the very few local players who can successfully bid for the upcoming projects; subcontractors say the number of credible bidders is no more than five. In any case, the intentions of the group’s management will be revealed at the end of the month when submitted bids are to be made for 10 projects along the Egnatia Highway and two major dams. Some competitors fear that the Hellenic Technodomiki-Aktor-TEV group may, in a power play, grab the projects by offering heavy discounts; its strong financial position allows it to complete some projects with negligible profits or for even a slight loss. However, the group does not now have the political connections of the past, something evidenced by the forced retreat of the Bobolas family from the media. Since mid-December, Aktor’s stock has risen about 16 percent. Yesterday, it gained 3.68 percent to close at 3.38 euros. Hellenic Technodomiki TEV, which shed 1.60 percent, has also posted gains recently.