Athanasios Exarchos

PRESIDENT AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF VANTAGE TOWERS GREECE

Greece 2022  I  Telecoms & IT  I  Interview

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_BIOGRAPHY He holds a BSC in Computer Science and an MSC in System Design from the University of Manchester (UK). Previously he worked for Nokia and Siemens where he held a number of leadership roles such as Med & Black Sea Regional Manager, Elat Strategy Manager and President & MD. He is also a certified business coach and a certified project management professional.

“WE PLAN TO MAXIMISE THE UTILISATION OF OUR OWN TOWER INFRASTRUCTURE, FREEING UP RESOURCES AND RAISING FUNDS THAT WILL ENABLE GREATER INVESTMENT IN NEW GENERATION TELECOMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS, SUCH AS 5G.”

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GREEK MARKET TO THE COMPANY’S OPERATIONS?

 

For Vantage Towers, currently active in ten European countries, Greece is the third biggest fully owned market behind Germany and Spain. We were created in late 2020 and incorporated to the Vantage Towers Group in time for the 2021 IPO. Then in February of this year, we proudly concluded a very complex 18 months transformation journey, which is unique in the local market.

 

Vantage Towers Greece has acquired the passive infrastructure of both Vodafone Greece and WIND Hellas. In this way, we have created the first independent passive infrastructure provider in Greece with a presence at more than 5,200 macro sites in all parts of the country. In addition to Greek mobile operators, our towers host 20 different tenants e.g., public services companies and IoT providers.

 

Vantage Towers Greece continues to show positive development, which is particularly reflected in the active sharing experience, the in-house end-to-end capabilities and the fact that Greece recorded the largest year-on-year increase in revenue among all subsidiaries in the last quarter. This shows the potential of the Greek market and thus its importance for the Group's operations.

 

WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY TO POSITION VANTAGE TOWERS IN THE CENTRE OF THIS TRANSFORMATION?

 

We plan to maximise the utilisation of our own tower infrastructure, freeing up resources and raising funds that will enable greater investment in new generation telecommunications networks, such as 5G. To this view, we are working on 3 pillars: Investing annually significant capex to maintain, modernize and further grow our tower infrastructure; offering all our 5,200+ towers to any interested entity to provide swiftly advanced connectivity services and new innovative solutions. A bright example here is the nationwide collaboration with Sigfox; and actively supporting the Greek innovation ecosystem to deploy and test their ideas. Our MOU with 5G ventures (Phaistos) is a clear proof of our intentions.

 

WHAT IMPACT DO YOU AIM FOR THE COMPANY TO HAVE IN GREECE?

 

Vantage Towers Greece is one of the largest investors in the country. We have the 2nd highest share capital and are among the top dozens of telecom corporations in terms of revenue and EBITDA. Our strategy covers three major areas: The rapid expansion of our network to meet the increased demands of our clients, the continuous training and upgrading of the skills of our staff. Our investments also comprise the implementation of green solutions in everything we do. For example, we are testing various innovative products, such as alternative fuels and towers made of environmentally friendly materials.

We also consolidate all customers into a common infrastructure, which directly leads to savings in raw materials and less visual impact on the environment. Overall, on a group level, we decided to switch to 100% green energy for all grid-connected sites. Of course, to achieve all that we have our people at the heart of our strategy. We value a lot our 50-50 gender diversity, at all layers including top management, while respecting fully all kinds of diversity. We also care deeply about our relationship with our landlords, who we consider our most important partners.

 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO INVESTORS INTERESTED IN GREECE?

 

Over the past few years, Greece made a giant leap forward in many areas of the economy, especially in digital transformation. The highly complex creation of our company in the middle of a lockdown is a clear proof of this progress in the country. Without this, it would have not been possible to sign tens of contracts and notarial deeds as well as successfully complete hundreds of virtual visits to authorities.Combining this giant leap with the excellent & highly innovative human capital, the geopolitical status and an investor-friendly administration, makes Greece a great destination for investors from across the globe. In Greece, the passive telecommunications infrastructure market has only emerged in the last quarter of 2020 – with the arrival of Vantage Towers, and this is a clear vote of confidence for the Greek economy.