ECONOMY

Gov’t supporting Deutsche deal

The government is firmly in favor of Deutsche Telekom’s involvement the share capital of state telecom OTE, with the competent minister expressing his support and appointing consultants to negotiate the deal. Speaking on the radio, Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis said, «In the past the government had been condemned for not finding an investor for OTE, while, now that there is an interest, it is again viewed negatively.» The minister added that the programs declared by political parties express the wishes of certain times, but that times change. He therefore openly disputed the statements by Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias on Sunday about a «strategic alliance against a strategic investment» in OTE. However, the market appears worried about the outcome of the deal between DT and Marfin Investment Group for the sale of MIG’s 20 percent stake in OTE. Although OTE’s stock rose yesterday both in Athens and in New York, the differing views within the government have spread doubts about the course of the agreement. MIG vice president Andreas Vgenopoulos did not hide his tension as he is the one who will have the biggest problem if the deal does not go through. «Yes, I am making a profit, I have bought and sold with profit. Is there anything wrong with that?» he said, answering a journalist’s question. Earlier he had rejected reports about a previous agreement with the government for DT to enter OTE through Marfin. Nevertheless, later in the day, Vgenopoulos told analysts, with the announcement of MIG results, that the deal between MIG and DT will be completed by the end of April. Yesterday the government appointed the consultants who will negotiate the deal, proving the intention is for DT to take more than just 20 percent of OTE’s capital. The Economy Ministry is reportedly drafting a new plan based on an equal relationship between the state and DT, without reducing the state’s stake in OTE. This means each side will have 25 percent plus one share or 28 percent. Therefore DT could acquire shares from the market, which may also prove cheaper for the Germans than the MIG deal. Finally, OTE workers are preparing to strike for another week; today their union is meeting to decide on further industrial action.