ECONOMY

OTE to slash jobs abroad

OTE’s CEO said yesterday the company will slash jobs at its biggest foreign investment in Romania and may withdraw from other markets in the region to sharpen its business focus. In testimony to a parliamentary committee investigating OTE’s faltering overseas strategy and share price, Chief Executive Lefteris Antonakopoulos defended the former state telecom monopoly’s strategy, mainly in the Balkans. «We recently had another look at our portfolio of international investments in some markets; in some markets we will have a policy of a graceful exit,» he said. But Antonakopoulos said regional expansion was the only way for OTE, Greece’s largest company by market capitalization, to ensure long-term growth. «Local competition will have a restraining effect on our profits, which is why we must look abroad,» he told the parliamentary committee on economic affairs. «We have to look at OTE’s interests not just today, not just tomorrow but for the next 10 to 15 years,» OTE International’s president, George Skarpelis, said. OTE has interests from Albania to Yemen with a regional footprint that includes fixed-line investments in Serbia, Armenia and Romania as well as mobile interests in Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Armenia and Bulgaria. OTE has indicated it will likely pull out of Armenia, but will keep its Serbian investment, where it owns a 20 percent stake. Responding to attacks by opposition deputies over the firm’s investment policy, Antonakopoulos’s predecessor, Nikos Manassis, replied that all European telecoms invested outside their domestic markets during the last decade. «Did the Germans, or the French, expressly lead their companies into unsuccessful investments? OTE had to look for other markets. It delayed doing so,» Manassis said. (Reuters/ANA/Kathimerini)