Greece to approach Deutsche Telekom for OTE stake: report

26th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Greece, which has launched a huge state asset sale, is likely to call on Germany's Deutsche Telekom to purchase a 10-percent stake in telecoms operator OTE, the semi-state agency ANA reported on Thursday.

"The government will possibly approach Deutsche Telekom as early as over the weekend," the agency said, without citing a source.

The finance ministry was not immediately available for comment.

The cash-strapped Greek government this week said it will reduce its 16-percent stake in OTE by next month amid plans to raise 50 billion euros ($70 billion) from state assets to reduce the country's huge debt.

Germany's Deutsche Telekom currently controls 30 percent of OTE, the largest telecom operator in the Balkans that employs some 30,000 people in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

The governnment is holding crunch talks with the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank on a privatisation programme and economic reforms whose outcome will determine Greece's continued solvency.

Athens last year was granted a 110-billion-euro loan from the three organisations, and has warned it will go bankrupt without a 12-billion-euro instalment due this month.

The government said it would activate a "put option" -- a contract to sell an asset by a specific date -- to sell a 10-percent stake of OTE and would also consider selling the remaining six percent at an unspecified date.

OTE this month reported a net profit of 30.2 million euros ($42.5 million) in the first quarter of the year, a fall of 54.1 percent over last year.

In February. OTE announced cost cuts worth some 32 million euros after reporting a crushing fall in profits, but managed to raise 500 million euros in a three-year bond sale two months later.

© 2011 AFP

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