ECONOMY

Moves toward realignment in telecoms sector

In these idle days of summer, plenty of rumors swirl in the domestic telecoms market, some more plausible than others. Many of those concern OTE, the former state monopoly which, according to your source, is being taken over by Spanish, Portuguese or other operators. One company definitely for sale is Q-Telecom, the telecoms arm of IT group Info-Quest. It is said that the new owners of TIM Hellas, Apax Partners and TPG, are interested because they want to expand into land-line telecoms. In the case they do buy Q-Telecom, holding company Global Finance is likely to join. However, interest in Q-Telecom has also been expressed by a consortium led by a UK-based venture capital firm. We also expect, sooner rather than later, to have a clearer idea about Intracom’s plans. The telecommunications equipment maker, and longstanding OTE supplier, recently announced, in quick succession, the acquisition of a 20.5-percent stake in Internet service provider FORTHnet – a stake previously held by passenger shipping company Minoan Lines – and the acquisition of 100 percent of another provider, Hellas On Line, from EFG Eurobank. The acquisitions are still being probed by the Competition Commission. It is clear that Intracom wants to be the mainstay of an alternative pole to OTE. It is also being said that Intracom is interested in online betting. If TIM Hellas does buy Q-Telecom, a third pole will emerge. This leaves Tellas, once considered OTE’s main potential rival, but which faces considerable accumulated losses.