Prevailing Wind: TIM Hellas rebranded, Tellas set to follow?

6 Jun 2007

Egyptian telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris yesterday announced the relaunch of his recently acquired Greek GSM network operator TIM Hellas under the Wind Hellas banner. Greece’s third largest mobile operator, and its wholly owned subsidiary Q-Telecom, were acquired by Sawiris’ family-controlled holding vehicle, Weather Investments, for USD3.4 billion in February. Weather Investments also controls Italian telco Wind, which owns a 50%-plus-one-share in Greece’s largest alternative fixed line operator Tellas, and has revealed plans to merge its three Greek assets by the end of 2007. Wind is in the process of trying to acquire the remaining shares in Tellas from state-controlled utility Public Power Corporation (PPC). ‘We would like to see Wind expand its market share and become the dominant operator in Greece,’ Sawiris said. He said he has submitted a ‘generous’ offer to acquire the rest of the stock, but fears that political wrangling will prevent PPC from selling its interest. Sawiris, who is also the chairman of Orascom Telecom, added that if negotiations with PPC fail, he would consider selling the Tellas stake and pursuing alternative options to develop broadband services. Wind Hellas already has some fixed line infrastructure in place via Q-Telecom. Although principally a pre-paid GSM services provider, Q-Telecom has an existing fixed wireless telephony and internet access business, with a focus on large urban areas. It offers consumer internet services under the myQnet brand, including dial-up, ISDN and ADSL connections, through an agreement with ISP Hellas On Line. Its fixed wireless access service ‘Q BWB’ covers Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa and Inofita, supported by an ATM backbone network.