OTE profits rise on lower costs, taxes

OTE telecom said yesterday that its first-quarter net profit rose a stronger-than-expected 28 percent on lower payroll costs and taxes following recent restructuring. For the three months to March 31, the company said net profit was -140.9 million, compared with -109.7 million in the same period of 2006. Revenues rose 8.8 percent to -1.51 billion from -1.39 billion. Chairman and CEO Panagis Vourloumis said the figures were partly a result of the restructuring. «In Greek fixed line, the cost cutting of the past two years is yielding results,» Vourloumis said. The earnings figure was higher than analysts’ expectations of -116 million, but the revenue result was in line with forecasts of -1.52 billion. Operating income before depreciation and amortization – which the company adopted in the first quarter last year to replace earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization – rose 9.6 percent to -561.7 million from -512.5 million. In the first quarter of 2007, the company also took a new -22 million provision for an employee voluntary retirement plan. The company’s share price has underperformed on the Greek market this year because of uncertainty over the government’s privatization plans. The Greek government, which holds 38.7 percent of OTE, has announced plans to sell up to a 20 percent stake as part of its -1.7 billion privatization program for 2007. (AP)