OTE stake to go on the block via placement

The government is reportedly planning to sell 15 percent of OTE telecom through a placement, as the efforts to find a strategic investor have not been successful. Sources suggest that the government expects to raise up to -1.5 billion from the sale of the package. It now owns 38 percent of the corporation. Plans for a strategic investor have now been shelved until a more appropriate time. The Postal Savings Bank (TT) will also make its way onto the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) soon. The company is set to announce its final financial report for 2006 by April 20. The exact percentage of shares to be allocated will depend on what market can afford, according to sources at the Economy Ministry. Estimates put the funds expected from the sale at -400-500 million. Today the state along with the Greek Postal Service own 65 percent of TT. Another worry for the Economy Ministry is the selection of the right timing for the allocation of 10 percent of ATEbank. Original plans had targeted the first months of this year, but failed as the stock of the bank did not rebound as the government had expected. Other considerations concern the entry of a strategic investor in the LARKO state mining and metals industry and the Horse Racing Corporation (ODIE). Government sources suggest that the privatizations of LARKO and ODIE may take place during this year. LARKO, in particular, is bolstered by the rise in the international price of nickel, which it produces, paving the way for its more successful privatization. As for ODIE, the 500,000 square meters it owns at Markopoulo, but has not used, could attract considerable investment interest. The privatization of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) will not proceed for the time being, although it is included in the budget. Its complex ownership status (by Hellenic Petroleum, Public Power Corporation and the state) hampers privatization. Major political decisions are required to simplify the current situation before any privatization process can begin for DEPA. Selling 33 percent of the corporation would fetch up to -500 million, the ministry estimates. The 2007 budget provides for -1.7 billion from privatizations, to cut the public debt from 104.3 percent of GDP last year to 100.4 percent.

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