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Vodafone 'may abandon' Wind Hellas merger
06 February 2012
Difficulties in obtaining approval could lead to Vodafone calling off merger with Greece's Wind Hellas
Vodafone is likely to call off the merger of its Greek unit with Wind Hellas amidst concerns that the merger could result in a duopoly in the country's mobile sector. A source told the Financial Times that the possibility of coming up with a deal that would satisfy European regulators has diminished since Christmas.
The news comes as a surprise as Greek daily Kathimerini recently reported that the two firms are planning a merger announcement by February 9. Vodafone, which owns 99.878% of Vodafone Greece, had planned a merger with private-equity-owned Wind Hellas to improve its position in the Greek market, currently dominated by Cosmote, owned by Deutsche Telekom-controlled OTE. While the combined entity will be smaller than Cosmote, it could still have nearly a 50% market share.
European regulators have expressed concerns that approving a duopoly could set a precedent in the sector. The source told the FT that authorities would probably reject Vodafone's argument of a challenging market scenario.
Meanwhile, sources have revealed that Vodafone and Wind Hellas may continue discussions over sharing their networks, a move that has a higher likelihood of being approved by regulators, the FT reported. GTB
Further reading from Global Telecoms Business:
Greece's Wind and Vodafone 'to merge' 02 Feb 2012
Downturn means telcos must be agile in restructuring debt 24 Oct 2011
Greek regulator sets renewal price for 900MHz frequencies 25 Jul 2011
Wind Hellas in debt restructuring deal 19 Oct 2010
Wind Hellas to restructure â‚¬1.7bn in debt 16 Jun 2010