13 May 2009

Cosmote to acquire Romanian mobile rival

13 05 2009 - The Romanian mobile arm of Greek operator Cosmote is reportedly poised to acquire local rival Zapp in a deal valued at around EUR200 million. Romania's Business Standard newspaper, which cites sources close to the discussions, reports this week that Cosmote Romania is interested in acquiring Zapp primarily to obtain the latter's 3G license. Although Cosmote is the third-largest mobile operator in the country (behind Orange and Vodafone), it is currently the only one in the market without a 3G license.

The report notes that Cosmote Romania's general manager Stefanos Theocharopoulos indicated last year that one of his term's priorities was to find a solution to allow the operator to provide mobile data services. Zapp, meanwhile, is owned by Saudi Oge via an entity called Telemobil, which will reportedly use the proceeds of a sale to reimburse a EUR220 loan taken last year from the China Development Bank. 

Negotiations between the two companies have reportedly been ongoing since March and a deal is expected to be completed by year-end. However, neither operator has yet to confirm the reports. According to Wireless Intelligence data, Zapp was the smallest of Romania's five mobile operators with fewer than 500,000 connections by first-quarter 2009. The market is led by Orange (10.1 million), followed by Vodafone (9.9 million), Cosmote (6.1 million) and RCS&RDS (1.8 million).


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