Σάββατο 25 Μαϊου 2024
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Nova: Crucial questions arise as billed ‘massive investment’ by Solak, Stathopoulos posts zero progress

Nova: Crucial questions arise as billed ‘massive investment’ by Solak, Stathopoulos posts zero progress

‘Amber alert’ issued for ambitious investment plan by Nova, owned by Serbian businessman Dragan Solak and Nikos Stathopoulos’ BC Partners

A massive investment scheme – at least on paper – announced by Greece-based telecoms and media provider Nova, one billed at two billion euros, remains “missing”, with the latter company apparently burdened by insurmountable financial problems.

Indicatively, Nova secured funding of 100 million euros just 10 months ago via the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) in order to install fiber optic lines for fast internet. Until today, however, nothing has been done.

It was back in September 2022 when representatives of United Greece, Nova’s primary shareholder, presented Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with a two-billion-euro investment plan to develop Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) lines, along with a 5G network. The announcements at the time claimed the foreseen infrastructure would be inextricably linked with the Greek economy and society’s digital transformation.

Nova’s parent company, United Group, was founded by Serbian businessman Dragan Šolak, with a majority stake in United Group now held by BC Partners, which is controlled by Nikos Stathopoulos. The latter is identified as Šolak’s “key man” in Greece for investments in the country, namely, the two-billion-euro project for FTTH and the 5G network.

Amber Alert for the ambitious plan

Months later United Group’s highly-promising plan for Greece’s digital transformation is simply missing.

Although securing the 100 million euros from the RRF, in other words European monies for optical fiber infrastructure, Nova hasn’t made any progress in the ensuing 10 months.

Another very crucial question is how this specific company was eligible for RRF funding, as well as how it secured financing from two banks, when its credit profile shows significant defaults vis-a-vis Greek banks, ones that have generated hundreds of millions of euros in losses for the credit system.

Crucial questions

Intense speculation by market watchers in the country also focuses on how a company can promote a huge two-billion-euro investment plan when, at the same time, it appears plagued by financial problems.

In fact, in order to continue servicing its massive debt load, which according to financial statements in 2021 reaches some 4.7 billion euros, Nova was forced to sell-off significant assets.

Alas, a fundamental question that now arises is how a corporate group burdened with high debt, one that doesn’t generate positive cash flows, will be able implement an investment plan worth two billion euros by 2027, especially when it has higher debt obligations for both 2024 and 2025.

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Σάββατο 25 Μαϊου 2024