By T. Igoumenidi
Debt-laden Forthnet has confirmed the submission of a purchase offer by the Alter Ego Mass Media group, controlled by well-known shipowner and businessman Vangelis Marinakis, a development that has sent ripples through the country’s telecoms sector.
According to laconic announcement issued the Athens-based company last week, the conditional offer involves the NPEs of creditor banks National Bank of Greece, Alpha, Piraeus and Attica Bank, including shares and convertible bonds.
Creditor banks had previously come close to an agreement to sell-off Forthnet to a consortium comprised of Greek media group Ant1 and Blackstone. Earlier, advanced and lengthy talks had continued with a consortium comprised of Vodafone and Wind, two out of the three mobile phone operators in Greece. The latter two are also shareholders in Forthnet.
Based on available information, Alter Ego Mass Media proposes to pay a small portion of Forthnet’s outstanding borrowing load, i.e. 20 percent of the 225 million euros owed to banks, in exchange for 36 percent of shares now in the possession of the latter.
If the proposal proceeds, the prospective buyer would have to issue a public offer to acquire control of the internet provider. Forthnet also operates the digital satellite pay TV platform Nova TV in Greece.