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The Warsaw Voice » Business » November 25, 2011
Business & Economy
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Polish Billionaire Takes Over Polkomtel
November 25, 2011   
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Zygmunt Solorz-Żak, one of Poland’s wealthiest men, is moving to take control of the Polkomtel company, which operates the Plus cell phone network. The acquisition, valued at more than zl.18 billion, may result in radical changes on to Polish telecom market.

At the end of October, the Competition and Consumer Protection Office (UOKiK) agreed that Spartan Capital Holdings, a company controlled by Solorz-Żak, could take over Polkomtel. The office concluded that the planned transaction would not restrict competition on the market. Assessing the acquisition, UOKiK took into account opinions from cell phone operators in Poland as well as the market regulator, the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE).

Following the go-ahead from the competition office, the road is clear to completing one the largest takeovers in Europe this year. Spartan Capital Holdings, which will acquire Polkomtel, is part of a group controlled by Solorz-Żak, who owns several media and telecommunications companies including Polsat Cyfrowy, Aero2, Mobyland and CenterNet. Through the Polsat television channel, Invest Bank and PTE Polsat, Spartan Capital Holdings also produces films and operates on markets providing banking services, pension funds and insurance. Polkomtel, which operates the Plus network, is one of four main cell phone service providers in Poland.

The Polkomtel acquisition is valued at zl.18.1 billion. Spartan Capital Holdings signed a contract with shareholders of Polkomtel (KGHM, PKN Orlen, PGE, Vodafone and Węglokoks) last summer to pay zl.15.1 billion and assume Polkomtel’s debts. It will also pay a dividend to current shareholders. The chief objective of the acquisition is listed in the accompanying documentation as the development of fast, fourth-generation broadband internet access based on the Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

The Polkomtel acquisition is attempt to combine telecommunications with mass media—television in particular—in a way that has never been done before anywhere. If successful, the transaction may revolutionize the market for cell phones, broadband internet access and pay television. To begin with, it will integrate television and telecommunications services, starting from joint sales of the Cyfrowy Polsat digital satellite television platform and cell phone service from Plus. The new group will not make television its chief asset, as it aims to gain its competitive advantage through LTE, which is ultra-fast wireless internet access. According to Solorz-Żak, the technology will change everybody’s life.
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