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Thursday, January 11, 2007

TDC in Hungary: HTCC/Invitel purchase

The strangest transaction of the year so far has to be TDC’s purchase of the altnet (Invitel an ex-Vivendi property) via its local subsidiary (HTCC) in Hungary for €470m.
I was really surprised about this given TDC’s desire to exit Polkomtel in Poland and the rumoured exit from Bite in Lithuania and Latvia. However, a little lateral thinking put me on the right tracks.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian regulator released November Mobile subscriber figures:
There were 9.763 million mobile phone subscribers in Hungary at the end of November 2006, 118,000 more than a month earlier, the National Communications Authority (NHH) said on Thursday. The number of subscribers per 100 Hungarians reached 96.9 in November from 95.8 in October.

T-Mobile's share of subscribers fell from 44.70% to 44.45% in November, while Pannon's rose from 33.86% to 34.28% and Vodafone's fell from 21.44% to 21.27%.
Perhaps, the TDC venture capitalists are planning an auction of HTCC to Vodafone and Telenor (aka Telenor) after a suitable gap?

If I was a Venture Capitalist and thinking of a coherent strategy to place a bit of cash in a 2-3 year time frame, I can think of a lot worse than buying and consolidating bombed out alt-nets in tertiary markets especially ones where Vodafone has a presence, lobbying like fury for equal access with the ex-national incumbent invariably with the EU’s backing and then playing the land-grab game for broadband in the consumer and SME sector. There is a ready buyer in Vodafone when they have the petty cash available to replicate the German and French experience with Arcor and Cegetel.

It is particularly efficient in you own an ex-national PTT and need some losses to avoid paying the local government any taxes on profits.