ECONOMY

Talks on OTE deal ‘difficult’ but will remains

Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) talks with the Greek government on buying a stake in OTE telecom may have hit a snag over the degree of management control, a government minister said on Friday. There have been «difficulties» in the negotiations, Transport and Telecommunications Minister Costis Hatzidakis said in an interview on radio station Skai. «They want to get some of their terms across and so do we,» Hatzidakis said. Last month, Deutsche Telekom agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in OTE, Greece’s biggest telephone company, from Marfin Investment Group, a buyout fund, for -2.5 billion. The deal is conditional on Greek government approval for DT to raise the stake and get management control. Greece owns 28 percent of OTE and is the company’s biggest shareholder. Asked whether the government will retain any veto rights in the management of OTE, Hatzidakis said that is what «the discussion is about and we’re trying to negotiate the agreement in the best way possible.» The government is seeking «a strong Greek presence that safeguards the company’s and workers’ interests,» he said. «The devil is in the details but the political will is there for a deal to be reached,» a market source said separately. A deal with a European partner as a strategic investor has long been sought by the government, but there seem to remain open legal issues for both sides. According to sources, an Athens law firm representing a big foreign investment fund is considering the possibility that DT and the Greek government may be legally bound to make a public offering for the free-float after the completion of a deal. (Bloomberg, Kathimerini)