ECONOMY

Cosmote, Zapp close to a deal

Negotiations between Greece’s leading cell phone operator Cosmote and Romanian peer Zapp are at an advanced stage with a view to Cosmote Romania absorbing Zapp, according to sources. Market experts note that the two companies are locked in exclusive talks, although two other firms had shown interest in the Romanian operator. The only sticking point at present is the price of the deal, as Zapp, owned by the Saudi Oger Group, is insisting on a high price, knowing Cosmote’s desire for a third-generation (3G) license. It is currently asking 200 million euros, while it had originally wanted 300 million euros. The license is particularly important for Cosmote, as the Romanian market has greater scope for the expansion of broadband Internet services through cell networks than the Greek market. This is due to the low penetration rate of fixed network connections in Romania, at just 20 percent of households, compared with 55 percent in Greece.