ECONOMY

In Brief

OTE acquires right to key appointment in Telekom Srbija OTE Telecom has secured the right to appoint a key post at Serbia’s Telekom Srbija, in which it has a 20 percent stake, the head of its foreign investment arm said yesterday. Michael Tsamaz, managing director at OTE International Investments, said the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Serbian government representatives on Monday, setting out OTE’s rights in 80 percent state-owned Telekom Srbija. «What we have agreed to is to amend the shareholders’ agreement which takes into consideration our 20 percent stake and management rights,» he told Reuters. «We will maintain the right to appoint our people to certain management positions, one being the chief financial officer. The deputy chief executive post will be discussed later.» OTE and Telecom Italia together became shareholders in Telekom Srbija in 1997 for nearly $1.0 billion, in a single sell-off to foreigners during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic. Serbia bought back Telecom Italia’s 29 percent stake in 2002. OTE’s rights will be incorporated into Telekom Srbija’s articles of association which will need approval by shareholders at the annual meeting within the year, Tsamaz said. He was appointed to his post in June. OTE remains keen on the Serbian operator’s mobile unit. «If Serbia decides to spin off (Telekom Srbija’s) mobile unit, we want to have equal rights to bid for it,» he said. (Reuters) TIM follows competitors with cuts in fixed-to-mobile rates Mobile phone operator Stet Hellas will cut rates it charges to connect incoming calls from fixed-line phones to its network, it said yesterday, the third operator to offer lower prices. «Fixed-to-mobile termination rates will drop 16.7 percent from 0.18 euros per minute to 0.15 euros,» Stet Hellas said in a statement. The price cuts go into effect from October 1. Earlier, market leader CosmOTE said it will cut termination rates by 14.7 percent to 14.5 cents per minute, matching rival Vodafone Greece’s cuts. The move comes amid continuing pressure from the telecoms regulator EETT and the European Commission for more rate cuts to bring them in line with European Union averages. (Reuters) Haji-Ioannou reacts The founder of Greek shipping firm Stelmar, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has spoken to other shareholders to express his opposition to its takeover by Fortress Investment Group, and is considering legal action. «There’ve been telephone conversations with the other shareholders. Stelios has said he’s spoken to over 60 percent of the shareholders,» James Rothnie, a spokesman for Haji-Ioannou, told Reuters yesterday. «A legal challenge is also an option of his,» added the spokesman. On Monday, US private equity firm Fortress Investment Group LLC agreed to buy Stelmar Shipping Ltd, based in Athens, for $677 million in cash, only a few months after Stelmar fended off a hostile all-share bid from rival shipping group OMI Corp. However, Haji-Ioannou has voiced his objection to the takeover. Haji-Ioannou, who with his family owns about 27 percent of Stelmar, said he had concerns over corporate governance procedures regarding the transaction. «What Stelios wants to see is complete transparency,» said his spokesman. «Let’s get all the facts out in the open… Why didn’t they accept OMI’s offer?» he added. (Reuters)