PPC weighs its options on Tellas

Reuters Public Power Corporation is examining the possibility of selling its stake in Tellas, the country’s second-largest fixed-line telecoms company, PPC’s chief executive told reporters yesterday. PPC is looking at ways to streamline operations in an effort to counter increasing costs which are pressuring its profit margin. The sale of stakes in units such as Tellas and nickel producer Larco are being examined. Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, who controls 50 percent plus one share of Tellas, has said he would be interested in buying PPC’s stake if it came up for sale, while Greek media have speculated the two parties have been in talks. «Sawiris is interested in the Greek market and we have good relations with him,» Takis Athanasopoulos, PPC’s new CEO told reporters. «We are watching all his moves and weighing our position.» Sawiris’s Weather Investments controls Italy’s Wind, which owns the Tellas stake. Weather Investments earlier this year bought Greece’s third-largest mobile phone operator, Tim Hellas. Sawiris has said he plans to merge Tim Hellas and Tellas’s operations in 2007, seeking to form a strong alternate full-range telecoms carrier in Greece. Athanasopoulos, who took over the reins of PPC earlier this year, said 2007 would be a turnaround year for the utility which posted its worst ever quarterly results last quarter, hurt by soaring energy prices. «By September-October we will be in a position to present our new business plan,» Athanasopoulos said. «We will be able to provide concrete measures and details of our strategic plans.» Rising global oil and natural gas prices, coupled with Greece’s gradual deregulation of its energy market, have led to PPC’s profit decline in the last three years, with 2006 net income slashed 83 percent to -22 million year-on-year.

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