Vodafone Said to Weigh Raising Hellas Broadband Stake in Greece

Feb 20, 2014 5:36 am ET

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Vodafone Group Plc is in early talks about increasing its stake in Greek broadband provider Hellas Online SA as it expands Web and video services across Europe, people familiar with the company’s plans said.

The talks may still fall through, one of the people said, asking not to be named discussing private negotiations. Vodafone owns about 18.5 percent now, while the majority of the Athens- based Internet service provider is held by Intracom Holdings SA, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Vodafone is in discussions about acquiring broadband and cable companies across its territories as it works to package wireless services with other offers and increase connections to its network. Vodafone said service revenue at its Greek unit fell 13.4 percent last quarter, blaming the declines on price competition and a weak economy.

Aggeliki Boura, a spokeswoman for Vodafone’s Greek unit, declined to comment.

Vodafone rose 1.2 percent, or 2.8 pence, to 226.1 pence in London trading at 9:46 a.m. The stock had gained 37 percent in the 12 months before today.

Tomorrow Vodafone will complete the $130 billion sale of its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, flooding shareholders with $82.5 billion in cash, cutting debt and increasing the Newbury, England-based company’s flexibility for deals and network improvements.

Vodafone has approached Grupo Corporativo ONO SA, Spain’s largest cable company, about a takeover, people familiar with the matter have said. The company also outbid John Malone’s Liberty Global Plc for German cable company Kabel Deutschland Holding AG last year.

--Editors: Mark Beech, Robert Valpuesta