OTE pushes ahead with cost cut plan

OTE, Greece’s biggest telecoms group, plans to cut costs by offering early retirement or new roles to a fifth of its local fixed-line workforce – about 2,000 staff, according to a company document obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

It was the latest in a string of moves by OTE, which would not comment, to cut wages, sell assets and stem customer losses caused by heavy regulation and a severe recession.

OTE, 40-percent owned and managed by German group Deutsche Telekom, operates in four countries in southeast Europe but derives most of its income in its home market.

“OTE management has opened a dialogue…to offer a voluntary exit plan for employees fulfilling certain criteria (and) the opportunity to put employees in new activities,» it said in an internal memo to workers.

Voluntary retirement will be offered to about 1,000 staff due to retire by 2014, company sources said.

OTE’s Greek fixed-line unit has lost about 1.3 million lines since 2009, about a quarter of the total, as cash-strapped consumers turn to smaller, alternative carriers benefiting from the regulator’s policies to undercut OTE’s prices.

OTE, a former state monopoly which first announced its intention to offer an early retirement plan in March, has had to wait for the government to change the tax treatment of such schemes before it could go ahead.

It has already sold assets in Serbia and plans to do the same with Bulgarian unit Globul to help cut debt.

OTE, which has to repay 899 million euros ($1.16 billion)bank loans in February, followed by 1.20 billion of bonds in August, did not pay a dividend out of 2011 earnings and is likely to do the same for 2012.


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