Gov’t short-lists 10 investment banks for the sale of OTE stake

The government said yesterday it has short-listed 10 investment banks to advise it on the sale of part of its holding in OTE Telecom to a strategic investor. The divestment of the government’s 38 percent current stake in OTE is part of Greece’s 1.7-billion-euro ($2.17 billion) privatization agenda for 2007, aimed at paying down public debt, one of the highest in the eurozone as a percentage of GDP. «Negotiations will follow so the final three can be picked,» Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told reporters after a meeting of the government’s privatization committee. «There will be two major foreign organizations and one Greek.» A senior ministry official said the short list included 10 names and the final decision would be made in 10-15 days. Alogoskoufis has said he would like OTE’s privatization process to be finished by June 2007. He has also said he prefers a major European peer to also take part in the telecom’s management. The sale of the OTE stake is the highlight of next year’s privatization agenda, which also includes ports and Athens International Airport. Bankers told Reuters last month that Telekom Austria was eyeing a stake in OTE. OTE CEO Panagis Vourloumis, who has overseen a major restructuring of the company, has said the government’s target to sell its stake by June 2007 was realistic but tight and would also depend on market conditions, which can be volatile. (Reuters)

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