Gov’t may sell 8 pct of OTE to DT

The government may sell up to 8 percent of telecom group OTE to suitor Deutsche Telekom as part of its plans to lock in the German telco as a strategic partner, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. Deutsche Telekom on Monday agreed to buy 20 percent of OTE for -2.5 billion from buyout firm MIG and has entered talks to buy a stake from the government, which owns about 28 percent, but OTE unions have called for strikes against the deal. «A 20 percent holding in OTE by the state should be assumed as a basic fact, given that such a stake is strategic and grants the holder certain rights,» Alogoskoufis said on Flash Radio. Greece has long sought a strategic investor for OTE, even sounding out Deutsche Telekom in the past, but had no luck as it did not want to cede management control. «We have entered discussions, through our advisers, with DT and believe we can reach an understanding on the levels of shareholding and the form of management,» Alogoskoufis said. Media have reported the government is willing to share the positions of chairman and chief executive of the company. Earlier yesterday OTE’s workers union called a three-day strike next week to protest against the proposed deal. «A total strike from March 26 to 28 will be held throughout the group,» OTE’s workers union OME-OTE said in a statement. «OTE is a piece of Greece and is not for sale.» The union will hold a meeting on March 28 to consider further strikes, it said. OTE’s powerful unions have scuttled deals in the past amid concerns that further stake sales will lead to job cuts and affect job security. (Reuters)

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