The Hungarian state has become a major shareholder in Albania’s two main telecommunications companies, ALBtelecom and ONE, while fears of a duopoly have been ignored by regulators.
Hungarian company 4iG bought just over 80% of ALBtelecom shares in early March after being approved by the competition authority in January. Also in March, 4iG completed the purchase of 99.889% of ONE Telecommunications. This means that 4iG now holds a significant share of the Albanian mobile and fixed mobile communications sector.
4iG’s CEO is Gellert Jaszai, a man close to Hungarian leader Viktor Orban.
From now on, 4iG has transferred its shares to Antenna Hungaria in the form of a contribution to increase the capital. The added value is estimated at around 350 million euros. This means that 4iG increased its stake in Antenna to 76.78% of the company, while the Hungarian state kept the rest.
Consequently, the two main Albanian telecommunications companies are now partly owned by the Hungarian state.
The transaction created the second-largest telecommunications group in Hungary with a significant portfolio of landline, Internet and television services, as well as landline and mobile services in the region and the Western Balkans, Monitor.al reported.
4iG’s largest shareholder and CEO, Gellért Jászai, said acquisitions made over the past year have completed the process of transforming 4iG from an IT systems company into an international communications information group. . The group does not even exclude a new expansion, by the realization of new acquisitions.
“In the coming period, we will seek to take advantage of synergies and collaborations between our companies and will continue to explore acquisition opportunities to increase the Group’s market share. “In 2022, we are trying to enter the B2C segment with telecommunications services under a single name and with a new strategy, not only in Hungary, but also in the Western Balkan region,” Jászai said.
Under Orban’s rule, Hungary experienced a significant decline in its relations with the EU and is now subject to various procedures for breaches of the rule of law. The country and Orban have also been criticized for not taking a tough stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and having a close relationship with President Vladimir Putin. More recently, Putin called Orban to congratulate him on his recent election victory.