Talks on Pegasus sale break down

Talks on selling one of the country’s biggest media groups to a top shipping magnate have broken down, both parties involved in the negotiations said yesterday, ending days of speculation on a major shakeup in the publishing sector. The announcement came hours before Parliament’s plenary session started debating a bill on excluding media barons from state tenders, which is seen as the main reason construction magnate Giorgos Bobolas wanted to offload the Pegasus media group he controls. Neither Theodoros Angelopoulos – one of Greece’s richest men, who is married to Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the head of the Athens 2004 Olympics organizing committee – nor Bobolas, who is a major shareholder in the Hellenic Technodomiki-Aktor group that undertook many of the lucrative construction contracts in the runup to the August Olympics, provided any clues as to why the talks had ended. A statement issued on behalf of Angelopoulos, who is in Lausanne, said that yesterday morning «for personal reasons, and with deep regret, [Angelopoulos] decided not to proceed further with the negotiations that were under way.» The Pegasus group – which counts the Ethnos and Imerissia dailies in its stable, and holds a 23 percent stake in Mega TV – also issued a laconic statement saying the talks had broken off. As a result, trading in Pegasus shares, suspended by the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday pending the outcome of the sale, will resume today. Sources indicated that the reportedly poor state of Angelopoulos’s health – he is thought to have heart problems which became more acute as a result of the negotiations the past few days – may have dictated his decision to withdraw from the table. Government sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the price Bobolas was seeking may have been too high. They also speculated Angelopoulos could have been scared off by the state of the Greek publishing sector.