NEWS

Incomplete data does not show possible changes in ownership

There have been no substantial changes in the composition of shareholders in the major private televisions stations, according to data just released by Ioannis Laskaridis, president of the National Radio and Television Council. Apart from new information on the rise and fall in the percentages of certain shares and the absence of some offshore companies, which have been replaced by others, what is new is the composition of shareholder lists of some of the smaller channels such as DEKA TV, TV Piraeus, Mad and Extra. Most of the changes appear to have been among the channels themselves, expressed in changes in the composition of share capital. At first glance, there are no obvious buyouts or mergers, no new players emerging, and none of the old names have extended their hold over the market. However, this does not mean that changes have not been made. These would not be evident, since, according to the law, channels have the right within 30 days after submitting the data to let the Council know of any new changes in their share capital. The most typical characteristic of the shareholder lists is the incomplete data on offshore companies. The tables, completed by the channel directors themselves, do not show the identity of the individuals who own the offshore firms. In some cases, these names could be found in previous tables issued in February 2003. But the fact that no names are mentioned does not rule out the possibility that major changes have taken place. For example, on the shareholder list of Teletypos SA (Mega), the participation of Pegasus SA, owned by the Bobolas family, appears to have doubled in recent months to 21.76 percent. The new list does not show Manotick Holdings Ltd, which last year held 8.23 percent of the share capital. Meanwhile, the stake held by the Lambrakis and Tegopoulos groups remained unchanged. ANTENNA TV is dominated by four offshore companies based in Ireland, which, according to last year’s data, belong to Minos Kyriakou and family. The Bank of New York has reduced its share since last year from 19.71 percent to 0.65 percent. In some cases, the individual percentages do not add up to 100 percent, meaning that either some channels have not submitted complete data or that the Council received supplementary data which it has not released. Another typical example is that of Alter, whose share list represents only 30 percent of its share capital. Only 52 percent of Mega’s shares are accounted for. Shares in some of the other channels, particularly the smaller ones, are spread out among a large number of individuals (14 in the case of Time Channel in Thessaloniki and 13 in DEKA TV). Incomplete data is likely to result in delays in the issuing of permits, meaning that the status quo, that is, some 15 years of operating semi-legally (or semi-illegally, depending on one’s point of view) will continue until after the elections.