Sawiris ready to unite Greek fixed line, mobile, internet operations

22 May 2007

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, the chairman of Orascom Telecom, has announced that his telecoms holding vehicle Weather Investments will make an offer within the next two weeks to buy the 50%-minus-one-share that it does not already own in Greece’s largest alternative telco by revenues, Tellas. Egypt-based Weather Investments owns its 50%-plus-one-share interest in Tellas through its wholly owned subsidiary, Italian telco Wind Telecomunicazioni, whilst the remaining shares are held by PPC Telecommunications, a unit of Greek electricity company Public Power Corp (PPC). Earlier this year Weather acquired Greece’s third largest mobile operator by subscribers, TIM Hellas, and its subsidiary Q-Telecom, which provides GSM, fixed line and internet services, and Sawiris immediately proposed a plan to combine his new Greek assets with Tellas by the end of 2007 to create a new full-service competitor to incumbent telco OTE. Weather Investments is in advanced talks with PPC about buying its stake in Tellas, Sawiris told Reuters on Saturday. ‘We are currently planning to prepare an offer [in]…maybe two weeks maximum,’ he said, adding that ‘We have to come to a price which is fair,’ but declined to give a figure. If the acquisition is agreed, he plans to combine the three companies and expand their fixed line and broadband services, and possibly make further acquisitions: ‘We intend to put them under one roof…[Greece has the] lowest broadband penetration in western Europe…we could buy a cable company, a fibre-optic company; we could buy some of the ISPs.’ TIM Hellas and Q-Telecom are in the process of merging their operations.