Pegasus publisher confirms sale talks

One of Greece’s top construction magnates yesterday confirmed he was in talks on the sale of his Pegasus media group with a leading industrialist, on the eve of today’s parliamentary debate on a new bill blocking media barons’ access to state contracts. «Negotiations with businessman Theodoros Angelopoulos are under way, and when these are completed instant notification will follow,» the listed Pegasus group – which counts dailies Ethnos and Imerissia in its stable, and holds a 23 percent stake in Mega TV – said in a letter to the board of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE). The ASE proceeded to suspend trading in the Pegasus shares, which rocketed in value last week on rumors of an impending sale to Angelopoulos – whose wife, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, headed Greece’s organizing committee for the Athens 2004 Olympics. The ban will be lifted when official announcements emerge on the outcome of the talks. Pegasus said it had been forced to «examine all options,» including talks with Angelopoulos, in view of the provisions of the bill on state tenders. Under the draft law, which was cleared last week by Parliament’s committee on justice, anyone owning 1 percent or more of media firms cannot bid for state contracts. The bill also precludes the close relations of such «major» media shareholders from access to public tenders. But Parliament’s Scientific Council yesterday expressed fears the bill might be in breach of European Union internal market regulations.