CosmOTE hopes to revitalize Cosmorom’s meager market share

ATHENS/BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Greek mobile operator CosmOTE will relaunch its ailing 70 percent-owned Romanian subsidiary Cosmorom before the end of this year, it said yesterday. In July CosmOTE finalized its acquisition from Romania’s fixed-line carrier Romtelecom of the cash-strapped operator, which competes in a market dominated by Orange and Vodafone’s unit Mobifon. «Our eyes are now on Romania. Penetration levels of mobile telephony in Romania are rather moderate (and) that means there is a lot of room for growth,» CosmOTE’s Chief Executive Evangelos Martigopoulos told a news conference. He said the investment, mainly to expand the network, would reach 450 million euros ($547 million) over the next three years, including 120 million euros CosmOTE has paid recently to raise its stake in Cosmorom. The Balkan country’s cell phone market penetration reached 52 percent in the first half of this year, up from 47 percent in 2004. Cosmorom has less than a 1 percent share of the Romanian market. Martigopoulos also said the Greek group was attracted by positive changes in Romania’s political and economic environment, the country’s forthcoming entry into the European Union, planned in 2007, and synergies with Romtelecom. The fixed-line carrier Romtelecom, majority owned by OTE, holds 30 percent of Cosmorom.