Expansion: Owner of Tele2 Croatia Purchases Greek Forthnet

Lauren Simmonds

As Novac/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 25th of November, 2020, the United Group’s entry into the Greek market is a continuation of their wave of expansion across Southeastern Europe. After buying Tele2 Croatia, this media and telecommunications group based in the Netherlands, which was formed in 2000 by merging three telecoms in Serbia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, further strengthened its competitive position with Deutsche Telekom and Telekom Austria within the region.

Victoriya Boklag, the CEO of United Group, says the Greek telecommunications operator and pay-TV provider Forthnet has officially become part of the United Group.

“We’d like to welcome our colleagues from Forthnet to the United Group family. We have ambitious plans for the company and they will be implemented by a new management team. Forthnet’s Nova brand is well positioned in Greece and we see a lot of potential for business development,” says Boklag.

Forthnet is a home entertainment and communications service provider in Greece with about 1,000 employees and nearly 1.4 million users. Through its Nova brand, it offers its customers more than 60 channels directly to their homes. The takeover of Forthnet is the third major transaction by United Group in less than a year, following the acquisition of Tele2 Croatia and Bulgaria’s Vivacom. Together, the acquisitions increased the size of the company to 1.7 billion euros in revenue.

Boklag adds that now United, which has more than 10 million users and 11,000 employees in all its markets, has the opportunity to present even more content and opportunities in the entertainment and sports segments in the Greek market to boost the growth of pay TV services.

”We’re confident that by applying our expertise in areas such as content and technology, combined with the telecommunications offering, we can provide a superior user experience and achieve business goals,” explained Boklag.

The United Group, which is majority owned by BC Partners, announced in June that it had agreed to take an initial stake of approximately 36 percent in Forthnet. Since then, the United Group has increased its stake to about 80 percent. By the end of the year, after the company completes the conversion of Forthnet’s convertible loan, its stake will rise to approximately 85 percent.

The owner of Tele2 Croatia must now activate the minimum mandatory bidding requirements down in Greece, which the United Group has done, and it’s expected that the company will announce a binding bid and close the purchase in the first quarter of 2021. Through a binding offer, the Tele2 Croatia owner hopes to collect 80 percent of Forthnet’s ordinary shares, which could, by combining acquisitions in a binding tender offer and/or the right to squeeze out remaining shareholders in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, lead to 100 percent ownership of Forthnet.

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