OTE will wait for more of CosmOTE

OTE Telecom does not plan to buy out minority shareholders in mobile subsidiary CosmOTE now, but it may build its stake after its restructuring, its CEO said yesterday. Analysts have said a bigger stake would give OTE greater exposure to CosmOTE’s cash-generative business, offsetting weakness at its core fixed-line unit. «OTE is not interested in buying out minority shareholders in CosmOTE in the short term,» CEO Panagis Vourloumis told Reuters. «In the long run, and on condition that OTE has sorted out its own problems, nothing can be ruled out.» Earlier yesterday, OTE said it bought a 4.64 percent stake in CosmOTE between April 5 and 25, boosting its holding to 64.37 percent. CosmOTE’s market value is about 5 billion euros. OTE, 37.7 percent state-owned, is currently trying to cut costs. Union leaders agreed in February on a voluntary redundancy plan for about 6,000 employees, a third of its work force. Analysts say OTE might buy out CosmOTE’s minorities later in the year. «This could be back on OTE’s agenda as soon as in the second half of 2005,» Smith Barney wrote in a recent note. (Reuters)

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