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Zoltan Teszari: The Mysterious Romanian Millionaire Disrupting the European Telecoms Market

December 05, 2023 Today at 12:15

Zoltan Teszari, former judo champion turned entrepreneur, is preparing to conquer the Spanish telecoms market with his company Digi, before tackling Belgium.

Is Zoltan Teszari the new Xavier Niel? In the 2000s, the French media entrepreneur disrupted the French telecoms market with prices that beat all competition. Twenty years later, here is a mysterious Romanian millionaire who establishes himself in Spain with his company Digidominating the small package market.

With its mobile subscriptions at 7 euros and its internet at 15 euros, Digi has put the pressure on its biggest competitors, who fled the segment to focus on 5G. Today, the Spanish subsidiary of Orange and Masmovil – respectively 2nd and 4th operators on the market – are being pushed to merge and Digi is the big winner. The operator has signed a preliminary agreement to buy back assets that the two groups must give in, in the name of European competition.

Here, Digi will become the fourth operator with a mobile offer expected in the second half of 2024.

Surfing the mergers

This deal is closely followed by European telecoms players, who anticipate a wave of consolidation in Europe. To finance the development of fiber and 5G, the European Commission could, in fact, accept other mergers, which would reduce competition and increase operators’ margins. Digi intends to take advantage of this trend, and is already eyeing two other markets: Portugal and Belgium.

For us, Digi will become the fourth operator with a mobile offer expected in the second half of 2024. “We aim to replicate our affordable, high-quality service model, ensuring our continued growth in the European telecommunications landscape,” said Digi CEO Serghei Bulgac.

In Romania, in addition to its telecoms services, the group has launched its own TV channels for sport, music and information.

Read also

Who is the Romanian telecom operator Digi, the surprise guest of the 5G auction?

From tatami to Digi

But the real architect of this strategy remains the founder of Digi, Zoltan Teszari, which holds approximately 60% of the shares. Born in 1970 into a Hungarian family settled in Romania, this former judo champion first earned money by reselling, in his country, products purchased during his tours of Western Europe. He invested in a ice cream shopthen in the importation of television components, before finally founding, in 1993, what would become Digi.

In Romania, in addition to its telecoms services, the group launched its own TV channels for sport, music and information. In 2017, it established itself in Spain, targeting, as a priority, diaspora roumaine, which represents the second largest foreign community in the country. Today, with 6.1 million customers, it is on its way to becoming the fourth operator in Spain and plans to develop its own network. A scenario that could well happen again in Belgium.

Although Zoltan Teszari is Romania’s fifth richest person, he almost never speaks to the press and local newspapers only have photos of him that are 20 years old.

Famous unknown

This meteoric rise has not been without controversy. In 2017, the Romanian anti-corruption directorate launched an investigation against Digi and its CEO for money laundering. In Spain, the group delayed the publication of its 2021 accounts four times after its auditor KPMG reported a lack of documentation.

In all this, Zoltan Teszari remains extremely discreet since he officially let go of the reins of the group in 2015. Although he is the fifth richest person in Romania, he almost never speaks to the press and the local newspapers only have stories about him. 20 year old photos. It is speculated that he lives in Hungary or near a Transylvanian spa resort. To live happily…

The profile

No and 1970 in Oradea, Romania.1993: he founded a telecommunications company which he named Digi.2008: Digi sets up in Spain.2015: he cedes his position as CEO, but keeps control of the major decisions.2017: investigation against Digi for money laundering.2023: Digi buys 5G frequencies in Belgium.
2023-12-05 11:54:01
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