BUSINESS

OTE to cut 1,100 fixed-line telecoms jobs

By Harry Papachristou

Greece's biggest telecoms company OTE plans to cut 1,100 jobs at its domestic fixed-line business, in the former state monopoly's latest move to reduce legacy costs.

The job losses, which represent about 13 percent of the fixed-line unit's total workforce, will be made through voluntary redundancies, Chief Executive Michael Tsamaz told analysts late on Thursday.

Controlling shareholder Deutsche Telekom has focused efforts to overhaul OTE on its Greek fixed-line business because it is one of the most inefficient, accounting for about a third of costs but only a quarter of operating profit.

OTE runs fixed-line and mobile phone services in Greece, Romania and Albania.

The job cuts are expected to cost OTE between 120 million and 200 million euros ($268 million), depending on the number of employees who agree to leave, a company official told Reuters on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

OTE will not pay a dividend to finance the cuts, Tsamaz told the analysts. This would be the third consecutive year in which the company has not rewarded shareholders with a payout.

Greece's economic crisis, fierce competition from rivals and tough regulation have hurt OTE sales, which have dropped by about a quarter over the past four years.

It has lost about a third of its Greek fixed lines since the end of 2009 and OTE has been offering satellite television and broadband services to mitigate the revenue drop.

After the job cuts, the Greek fixed-line unit will have 7,600 workers, a third less than when Deutsche Telekom bought a 40 percent stake in OTE in 2008.

Mass firings are effectively not allowed under Greek law and voluntary redundancy schemes are the standard way for big Greek companies to reduce costs.

The country's fourth-largest lender Eurobank and its biggest refiner Hellenic Petroleum have also recently announced voluntary exit plans for about a tenth of their workforce. [Reuters]

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