S&P keeps OTE rating stable

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has affirmed its BBB+/A-2 long- and short-term corporate credit ratings for OTE telecom. The outlook is negative. In advance of upcoming debt issuance and the repayment of debt maturities due until February 2007, OTE has gross consolidated debt of about 4.1 billion euros. «The ratings on OTE are supported by the group’s 67 percent ownership of Greece’s leading mobile telephony operator Cosmote, and by profit improvement potential at OTE’s fixed-line operations,» said S&P. We expect the company’s debt measures to be weak for the rating at year-end 2006, in the wake of the 1.3-billion-euro acquisition by Cosmote of Germanos, a retailer with significant mobile telephony market share in Cosmote’s key markets. OTE needs to manage significant domestic restructuring while carrying out ambitious and costly development plans for Cosmote Romania, and to complete the Germanos transaction.