Polish alternative fixed line telco Netia plans to continue its mobile resale partnership with the country’s fourth largest cellular operator P4, which trades as Play, in a move seen as a possible precursor to a full-blown merger, Reuters writes, quoting an anonymous source. As reported in TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate in August 2014, Netia said it would select either P4 or its larger rival Polkomtel to be its sole mobile partner, rather than maintain its current deals with both network operators. Netia has now reportedly indicated it will be using the Play network to add consumer voice/data mobile services to its suite of internet, TV and fixed telephony in quadruple-play packages.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Netia started offering mobile telephony in September 2008 based on a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with P4 (itself a former Netia subsidiary [Netia Mobile]), although the MVNO voice service was aimed at business users. In Q3 2009, the scope of this cooperation was expanded to cover resale of P4’s mobile broadband services, but recently the MVNO service has been scaled down. At the end of September 2014, Netia’s mobile customers fell to 24,191 (voice) and 18,032 (data), down from respective totals of 42,304 and 25,344 twelve months earlier. Netia said in its 3Q14 report that it ‘is not actively promoting mobile services, but maintains its [MVNO] offering to provide competitive services to those customers looking for a convergent offering.’
Netia’s shares are distributed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, while P4 is 50.3% owned by Cyprus-registered Tollerton Investments, itself a subsidiary of Olympia Development, and 49.7% by Novator Telecom Poland, a unit of Icelandic fund Novator. Speculation linking the two firms as potential merger partners has been ongoing since last year, when it was reported that Netia’s 23% shareholder – local businessman Zbigniew Jakubas – had confirmed that he would be interested in a tie-up with P4, and that Netia could set aside up to PLN2 billion (USD630 million) to help fund future acquisitions.