ECONOMY

Government hopes sale of OTE will be completed within six months’ time

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Greece will pick three advisers for its plan to divest its 38 percent current holding in OTE telecom, part of the government’s privatization plan next year, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said. The sale of OTE’s stake is part of Greece’s ambitious privatization agenda, aimed at paying down debt, one of the biggest in the eurozone as a percentage of GDP. «We have had a lot of interest from all the major international banks and all the major Greek banks as well and we will select two advisers with considerable telecoms experience from international banks and one Greek bank, so there will be a group of three,» Alogoskoufis said. He said the privatization committee would meet tomorrow to pick the advisers. «They will advise us on the best possible process, and one of their mandates will be to investigate the potential interest of established telecoms operations interested in investing,» the minister said. Alogoskoufis said he would like OTE’s privatization process to be finished by June 2007. «There’s no point in delaying too much. Up until now in our privatization efforts we have been able to meet our deadlines so I hope we shall succeed this time as well,» he said. Greece also wants to attract investors to its major ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki and will seek advisers for this project as well. «Our priority is to have an open process and invite interested parties, possibly shipping companies, to help us in the development of the Piraeus port,» the minister said. He said the government was looking for a major operator who would use the Thessaloniki port as a hub with a view to use facilities for transhipment in the Black Sea. The government aimed to appoint advisers by the end of the year. «We hope to finish the process in the next six months,» Alogoskoufis said.