Sawiris confirms commitment to Wind Hellas

17 Sep 2010

Bloomberg reports that Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has made a binding offer for a controlling stake in Greek full-service telco Wind Hellas, which is a subsidiary of his holding company Weather Investments but is currently under the control of creditors after it deferred on debt payments in June. Sawiris revealed that his bid includes a fresh cash component and a partial debt-for-equity swap with creditors giving up some of their claims in exchange for shares in a restructured company. A group of senior bondholders in the mobile, fixed line and broadband operator is also reportedly seeking control of the company. Sawiris said in an interview: ‘The business needs cash. We know the company very well and we know the Greek market inside out … I am committed to Greece and the cash injection would give Wind Hellas the ammunition to fight back in the price war.’ He declined to give further details of his offer, but added, ‘It will be the bondholders who decide what’s best for the company and its creditors.’ Wind Hellas had missed payments on its EUR1.2 billion (USD1.6 billion) of floating-rate notes as well as on a EUR250 million revolving credit facility. Its revenues and profits have also plummeted in the face of a domestic economic crisis and fierce competition forcing prices down. Binding bids for the company were due on 15 September, with potential bidders including Norway’s Telenor, US investment firm Saban Capital, Info-Quest, Greece’s biggest computer maker, and domestic telco On Telecoms.

Separately, Sawiris disclosed that there had been no further progress in talks with Vimpelcom looking at the possibility of merging Weather’s stakes in Egypt-based group Orascom Telecom and Italian telco Wind with the Russian firm.

Greece, Wind Hellas