Eye on Balkans for investment

OTE, Greece’s main telecoms operator, and its mobile phone subsidiary Cosmote will invest 900 million euros in the Romanian telecoms market in the next three years, Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis told his visiting Romanian counterpart Zsolt Nagy yesterday. OTE will invest 500 million euros in majority-owned Romtelecom, and Cosmote 400 million in the respective unit of CosmoRom. OTE, in which the state is the main shareholder, has already invested about a million euros in Romtelecom. Liapis said OTE intends to list the company on foreign bourses. Separately, Albanian Mobile Communications (AMC), also a Cosmote subsidiary, said it plans to invest up to 50 million euros in network expansion and new services in the current year, AMC said yesterday. Chief Executive Stefanos Oktapodas has said the company plans to invest about 40 million to 50 million euros this year, Pranvera Papamichali, head of AMC’s public relations department, told SeeNews. It will also continue cutting tariffs, a trend that began in 2001. «AMC is going to improve coverage by expanding its network even in the less populated areas. It is going to launch new services and continue the trend of reducing tariffs,» Papamichali said. AMC was the first mobile phone operator in Albania in 1996 and has a 51 percent market share. The mobile firm reported a 41.5-million-euro net profit for 2005, up 16.9 percent compared to the previous year. It has so far invested around 300 million euros in the domestic mobile market and employs 400 people. Separately, Cosmote said it will propose a 2005 dividend per share of 0.65 euros at the June 8 annual shareholders meeting, up from 0.57 euros in 2004. The dividend yield comes to 3.5 percent based on the share’s closing price on Friday at 18.52 euros. Piraeus Bank The Romanian unit of the Piraeus Bank Group said yesterday it planned to invest 40 million euros this year in branch network expansion and the development of its services and IT system. Piraeus Bank Romania wants to double the number of its branches to 60 this year. The bank also plans to set up two mutual funds in the second half of 2006 as part of its financial services development, it told SeeNews in a statement. Piraeus Bank Romania said that «good knowledge of the market, expected market trends and the diversified products and services portfolio for both corporate clients and individuals have contributed to registering positive results» last year. The bank expects its assets to rise to 1.2 billion euros, while its credit portfolio should reach 780 million euros by the end of this year. The bank’s assets stood at 450 million euros at the end of last August. (Kathimerini, SeeNews)