UPDATE 1-Vodafone bids for Greek telecoms company Forthnet

Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:48am EDT

(Adds detail, shares)

ATHENS, July 17 (Reuters) - Greece's biggest subscription television provider Forthnet said on Thursday it had received a joint takeover bid from Britain's Vodafone and its Greek business partner Wind.

Vodafone and Wind, which already own about 39 percent of Forthnet, have made a non-binding offer for the rest of the shares, indicatively offering between 1.70 and 1.90 euros apiece, Forthnet said in a bourse filing.

A victim of cut-throat competition in Greece's shrinking, austerity-hit telecommunications market, Forthnet has reported net losses for the past nine years, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.

But the acquisition may give Vodafone an advantage in it battle with main Greek rival OTE, a unit of Germany's Deutsche Telekom. Forthnet's main asset is subscription TV operation Nova, which would help either OTE or Vodafone/Wind boost their market share and squeeze more revenue from customers.

OTE last month tabled a non-binding bid of up to 300 million euros to buy Nova but Forthnet said on Thursday there was "no significant development" regarding OTE's bid.

The offer from Vodafone and Wind values Forthnet at between 187 and 209 million euros ($283 million), according to Thomson Reuters data. Forthnet's biggest shareholder is Emirates International Telecommunications LLC, with a 44 percent stake.

Shares in Forthnet, which began as an internet provider and then expanded into telephony and pay TV, were flat at 1.70 euros in Athens.

In a bid to challenge OTE's market leadership in Greece, Vodafone tried but failed in 2012 to merge with Greece's third-biggest operator, Wind Hellas. (Full Story)

The two firms subsequently struck a network-sharing agreement last year to save costs. ($1 = 0.7390 Euros) (Reporting by Harry Papachristou; editing by Tom Pfeifer)