ECONOMY

Kokkalis letter to ASE attacks Kathimerini

Intracom Chairman Socrates Kokkalis has called on the Athens Stock Exchange authorities to protect his listed companies from «malicious or willful deception» aimed at devaluing the value of their shares, accusing Kathimerini of being at the forefront of a press misinformation campaign. «The offense of deception… also consists of the deceitful quotation of falsely unfavorable findings.. in order to deceive the investing public and prompt it to massively sell its shares so the deceivers can buy them at a price far lower than normal,» Kokkalis wrote ASE Chairman Panayiotis Alexakis, in a letter made public yesterday. Kokkalis alleges that, during «the past few days,» his telecommunications equipment company Intracom and the group of companies it controls have been the subject of «deceitful» articles in the press, «with the supposedly authoritative Kathimerini taking the lead.» Kokkalis has two main complaints against Kathimerini and the other, unmentioned, newspapers. First, he says, they present the Intracom group as being «in a state of excessive indebtedness.» Second, the papers allegedly present a false picture of Intracom’s prospects by saying that in a deregulated market, it will lose its «privileged» status as the main supplier to OTE Telecom. To rebut the first category of allegations, Kokkalis repeats the company and group results from the first three quarters of 2001, which show that total assets, at 327.1 billion drachmas, exceed liabilities (287.5 billion) and that net borrowing is 61.5 percent of own capital – a fact which, he says, is a sign of the group’s strong financial health. As for the newspapers’ evaluation of his companies’ prospects, Kokkalis said that «Intracom did not, did not aim to, and cannot possibly benefit from a privileged relationship with OTE or any other of its customers.» Kathimerini has long taken a strong stance, editorially and in several documented articles, against what it describes as a too-close relationship with OTE and other state companies, such as state lottery and football pools company OPAP. The great majority of Intracom’s business is conducted with OTE and its subsidiaries, notably mobile telephony firm CosmOTE and Romania’s Romtelecom. These, together with OPAP, account for almost all of Intracom’s contracts yet to be implemented, worth a total of 480 billion drachmas. Kokkalis’s proposal, made during Intracom’s annual meeting on November 30, that his company and OTE merge has been explicitly rejected by the government.