ECONOMY

OTE back in the black

The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) yesterday reported net group income of -445.5 million ($585.6 million) in the first nine months of 2006 after a loss of -296.7 million last year. The semi-state telecoms giant also recorded 5.6 percent growth in revenues to -4.3 billion and a 19 percent fall in operating costs, to -3.43 billion. «Our results this quarter are encouraging,» OTE Chairman and CEO Panagis Vourloumis said in a statement, adding that the group is displaying «strong growth» in its broadband and mobile operation. OTE is also containing its operating expenses as a headcount reduction and cost-cutting in mature activities are compensating for higher expenses in its faster-growing businesses, Vourloumis added. In the third quarter of 2006, OTE turned a net income of -223.6 million compared to a loss of -493.2 million over the equivalent period last year. The group last month completed a voluntary retirement program with 5,400 employees departing since the beginning of 2005. The estimated accounting cost of the program was -939.6 million, fully charged in OTE’s 2005 full-year results. OTE’s mobile telephony subsidiaries in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Romania recorded third-quarter consolidated revenues of -593.5 million, an 18.4 percent increase over the third quarter of 2005. On November 16, OTE announced that it had completed the sale of its 90 percent stake in ArmenTel, the incumbent telecommunications provider in Armenia, to Russia’s VimpelCom for a total cash consideration of 341.9 million euros. The transaction should generate a pretax capital gain of -292.9 million, the group said yesterday. ArmenTel recorded revenues of -44.5 million in the third quarter of 2006 for a nine-month total of -112.9 million, a 38.2 percent increase over last year. Its nine-month net income rose by 21.8 percent to -31.3 million. (AFP)