ECONOMY

In Brief

OTE expects no EU objections to voluntary redundancy plan Telecoms operator OTE is optimistic it will not meet opposition from the European Union over the state’s proposed funding for its voluntary redundancy plan, it said yesterday. «As far as I know, the proposal for the voluntary redundancy will be submitted in the coming days,» OTE CEO Panayis Vourloumis told the company’s annual general meeting. «I cannot prejudge the decision, as far as the percentage the state will cover is concerned. By nature, I am optimistic,» he said. The Greek government has said it will finance a fifth of OTE’s 1.5-billion-euro ($1.82 billion) early retirement scheme for about 6,000 employees by transferring funds to OTE’s main pension fund TAP-OTE. OTE will bear the remaining cost. OTE, 37.7 percent owned by the state, sees the voluntary redundancy plan as a key plank of its cost-cutting efforts, which are aimed at boosting its competitiveness. Recent press reports had said the EU might object to the Greek government’s funding of the OTE plan, which could force the operator to bear the full cost of the scheme. (Reuters) 1.11-billion-euro sale of TIM Hellas finalized, branding approved Telecom Italia Mobile International signed a final agreement late on Wednesday for the sale of its entire equity interest in TIM Hellas, equal to 80.87 percent, to funds managed by Apax Partners and the Texas Pacific Group (TPG). «The agreement, which was announced on April 4, 2005, was signed in Athens after obtaining clearance from the competent Greek and European Union authorities,» a statement said. The price of the sale is 1.114 billion euros, or about 16.43 euros per share. «The TIM Group’s net financial position will improve due to the deconsolidation of TIM Hellas debts of 216 million euros,» the statement added. An agreement was also signed licensing TIM Hellas to use the TIM brand. Dividend, bond approved Shareholders at the annual meeting of mobile phone operator CosmOTE yesterday approved a dividend of 0.57 euros per share for 2004, along with the issue of 1 billion euros of corporate bonds. The 0.57 euros per share dividend adds to an interim dividend of 0.19 euros per share and a 0.71 euros per share share capital return already paid. The stock trades ex-dividend today, with the dividend payment due on July 12. Shareholders also approved the issue of up to 1 billion euros of seven-year corporate bonds by end-May 2007, for the acquisition of Greek telecom operator OTE’s mobile assets in Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Globul and Cosmofon, respectively. (Reuters) Vardas gains Clothing retailer Vardas’s shareholders yesterday approved a 2004 dividend per share of 0.13 euros, up 18.2 percent on 2003, with the stock trading ex-dividend on June 24. Dividend payments will start on July 1. Based on the share’s closing price yesterday, the dividend yield comes to 6.1 percent. Vardas shares gained 3.4 percent to settle at 2.13 euros. Vardas sales grew 11.9 percent last year to 32.8 million euros with pretax profit rising 20 percent to 2.4 million. Management said sales are projected as stable to slightly higher this year with earnings seen at last year’s levels. (Reuters) Suspension The Athens Stock Exchange yesterday suspended trading in the shares of Alte Technical over its failure to publish 2004 financial statements on time. (Reuters)