Hellenic Petroleum offers voluntary exit to 300 staff

Greece’s biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum has offered a voluntary redundancy scheme (VRS) to as many as 300 employees, or almost 8 percent of its total workforce, to cut costs, two company sources told Reuters on Friday.

The offer predominantly targets administrative staff and a deadline for eligible employees to apply expires at the end of next month, the officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Hellenic has nearly 4,000 employees, about 80 percent of whom are based in Greece. It runs refineries and petrol stations across southeast Europe.

Several large Greek companies, such as the country’s biggest telecoms firm OTE, have offered voluntary exit or retirement schemes to cut costs and remain competitive amid the country’s economic slump.

Hellenic Petroleum is 35.5 percent state-owned and the Greek government plans to sell its stake as part of the country’s privatization plan under the terms of its EU/IMF bailout.

The Latsis family holds a 41 percent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data. The company has a stock market value of about 2.4 billion euros on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The company declined to directly comment on the VRS. “As all other corporations do, Hellenic Petroleum is in a constant process of improving its services to consumers and all its moves aim at constantly improving its competitiveness,” a spokesman told Reuters.

This is Hellenic’s third VRS in the last five years and forms part of a general drive to cut costs. The company earlier this year refinanced its debt and completed the upgrade of a refinery unit to boost exports and reduce its exposure to the austerity-hit Greek market. [Reuters]

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