2022 looks like being another eventful year for the Hungarian IT and telecom company 4iG.
As I pointed out in a previous column, 12 months ago it had barely been heard of outside the country. Now it is recognised as one of the fastest growing in the Western Balkans region, making key acquisitions in both Montenegro (Telenor) and Albania (ALBtelecom and One Telecommunications).
The latter, announced last December, are particularly significant as once finalised they will make 4iG one of the leading telcos operating in Albania. In the case of ALBtelecom, it will also result in Çalik Holding, one of the largest conglomerates in Turkey, becoming a shareholder in 4iG.
Closer to home, 4iG closed the acquisition of Digi Communications’ assets in Hungary at the beginning of this month. The transaction, valued at around €625 million, was a major milestone for Digi, signalling the end of 23 years in the country. During that time, it built up an electronic communications operation rivalling that of Magyar Telekom and UPC and its predecessors (now Vodafone) in what is a highly competitive market.
Arguably the most high-profile 4iG acquisition to date has been that of a majority (51%) stake in Israel’s Spacecom, which operates the Amos group of satellites. However, it has not yet been finalised, with Israel’s Communication Ministry apparently reluctant to sign off the deal. This is understandable, as besides having commercial clients the Amos satellites are also used by Israel’s security services.
Furthermore, concerns have also been raised about 4iG’s reported closeness to the government. These are in some respects similar to those voiced about Telekom Srbija, which has in the last 2-3 years undertaken a number of acquisitions, both in Serbia and wider Balkan region.
The scope of 4iG’s ambitions has neverthless been underlined by an agreement it has just secured with Germany’s Rheinmetall. In what is a complex transaction, it has agreed to buy a 25.12% stake in 4iG, making it the largest international investor in the group.
However, 4iG will still remain very much in the control of its CEO and majority shareholder Gellert Jászai. Aside from further acquisitions, its future plans may also include a listing on a foreign stock exchange.