ECONOMY

Gov’t, DT near an OTE deal?

The government and Deutsche Telekom (DT), which recently bought a 20 percent stake in OTE telecom, the country’s main operator, are expected to give indications of progress in negotiations on a joint management scheme, sources said yesterday. The two sides are also discussing the purchase of a further small stake by DT from the government, which now holds 28 percent, bringing their respective shares to roughly the same level. It appears, however, that a tug of war has begun between the two main shareholders over whether they will have equal powers and authority in the scheme, or whether the Germans will have the upper hand. The sources say DT is pressing for control but the government is also adamant there will be no concessions from the originally declared position of a «balanced relationship.» According to all indications, the 10-member executive board will be staffed equally by the two sides, and will be chaired by a government appointee who will also have the Germans’ approval. It seems that current CEO, Panagis Vourloumis, will stay in the post for at least a year in order to facilitate the smooth transition to the new scheme. Market watchers describe the impending deal between the government and DT as an interim agreement prior to full control of OTE by the Germans. It is seen as only logical that a giant such as DT will want to gain majority control of OTE in the long run. Separately, OTE employees returned to work yesterday after a rift between different union factions. The prevailing mood now is to continue protests against DT’s entry into the utility by other forms of action. The union has scheduled meetings with political parties.