Deutsche Telekom slams Greek investment conditions

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Directors of Deutsche Telekom, a major player in Greece, said Thursday they would check to see if Greek investments were worthwhile after criticizing local regulatory authorities.

"We must verify if investments in Greece are worth it," Thimoteus Hoettges told a press conference.

That could determine whether Deutsche Telekom decides to buy a six percent stake in the local telecommunications operator OTE that the Greek government still owns, he suggested.

Deutsche Telekom chief executive Rene Obermann said he would examine any offer from Athens "very closely" and "critically."

Obermann also maintained that Greek authorities had taken "incomprehensible" decisions and were "hostile to any investment."

The German telecoms operator has complained several times about hurdles to the offer of new products in Greece, where its operations have suffered.

Hoettges said Deutsche Telekom had run up against "problems linked to labour laws" in Greece, in particular concerning working hours and social conditions.

Deutsche Telekom owns 40 percent of OTE after being forced by contractual conditions to buy part of the state's holding.

OTE covers half of the Greek mobile telephone market and is also present in other southeastern European countries but it is not producing good results.

Staff at the Greek operator are worried meanwhile by Deutsche Telekom's growing influence and staged a strike after the sale of a 10 percent government holding was announced.

The Greek government is being pressed to privatise vast holdings to reduce some 350 billion euros ($500 billion) in debt that has sparked a crisis now spreading to other eurozone countries.

© 2011 AFP

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