The United Group, a broadband and pay-TV provider which has operations across south-eastern Europe, has agreed to acquire a stake in Greek operator Forthnet. United Group, which is owned by UK-based BC Partners, will take an initial 36% interest in Forthnet from a group of four Greek banks. The deal will be structured so that United Group will not be forced to make an offer to buy out other minority shareholders, but United Group will take on Forthnet’s debt. The agreement is dependent on regulatory clearance.
Once the Forthnet deal is completed, there is speculation that United Group could then look to increase its presence in the Greek market by moving for the country’s number three cellco Wind Hellas. BC Partners did make an offer for Wind towards the end of last year, but its bid was rejected as too low.
United Group has been expanding its footprint recently, acquiring Tele2 in Croatia and Vivacom of Bulgaria last year. It now has interests in eight countries across the region. Forthnet provides services to around 700,000 households and 40,000 companies.
Victoriya Boklag, CEO of United Group, said: ‘We are pleased that Forthnet will be joining United Group and I’m excited that we continue to strengthen our business and provide our customers across the region with a broad range of cutting-edge services. We see significant opportunity to work with Forthnet to drive growth in pay-TV services and to launch into the mobile phone market and are pleased to be expanding our reach into the Greek market.’