ECONOMY

Stet Hellas racks up its 2,000,000th customer

Stet Hellas, the third-ranking mobile phone operator in the country, said yesterday that it had signed up its 2,000,000th subscriber over Christmas, as it plays catch-up with rivals CosmOTE and Panafon-Vodafone. State-controlled CosmOTE announced in October a customer base of 2.74 million customers at the end of the third quarter of the year, giving it a market share of 36.9 percent and ousting long-time leader Panafon-Vodafone. The latter slid to second position with 2.69 million subscribers. Stet Hellas celebrated the milestone with a present of 2 million drachmas worth of voice time to its 2,000,000th customer. Business Manager Dimitris Papayiannopoulos said the company plans to focus more on value-added services next year, underlining the industry’s emphasis on a relatively undeveloped sector to offset the fast-saturating voice usage market. Stet Hellas launched a 30-billion-drachma rights offering in October during which parent company Stet Mobile Holding increased its 58-percent stake to 62.8 percent. Funds raised from the issue were used to finance the company’s acquisition of a third-generation mobile phone license. Reports said Stet Hellas is planning to float on the Athens Stock Exchange next year. It is publicly traded on the NASDAQ and Amsterdam stock exchanges. The third reform concerns the taxation system and is also projected for completion within the first half of 2002. It will by all accounts introduce a radical simplification of procedures, particularly concerning wage and salary earners. It is also said to target improvements in competitiveness and reducing tax evasion, particularly through dealing with the widespread phenomenon of bogus receipts. Furthermore, it will strive to harmonize the body of real estate taxes with the rest of the European Union in order to provide a boost to this emerging market.