Gov’t, DT see eye to eye on pivotal issues

Greece and Deutsche Telekom have found common ground on key issues toward a deal to sell a government stake in OTE to the German group but talks are ongoing, a senior government official said. «There are still some issues that are being discussed, (which are) not insignificant. On the difficult ones we have reached agreement,» the senior Finance Ministry official said yesterday. Greece holds a 28 percent stake in OTE telecom and is looking to sell about 3 percent and share management of the company with Europe’s largest telco by revenues. The two sides have been trying since March to reach a deal to cover the Balkan telecoms market with both fixed-line and mobile telephony. The sought-after pact comes during a period of consolidation in the European telecoms sector, as bigger groups seek scale and growth in the mostly mature markets of Europe. OTE is present in Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and Albania. «We have to a large extent agreed on the authorities of the CEO and the chairman at OTE,» said the official, who declined to be identified. The chairman of OTE will be chosen by the Greek government and the chief executive picked by Deutsche Telekom. Obstacles remain on who will have the upper hand on crucial decisions. «We are still negotiating but we cannot comment on where we stand,» said DT spokesman Mark Nierwetberg in Frankfurt. Opposed to the deal, OTE telecom’s workers said yesterday they will strike on May 6 and 7, fearing that shared management may bring job and benefit cuts. «They are fooling themselves, the government and the Germans, that the deal has prospects when workers and Greek society are against it,» their union OME-OTE said in a statement. Deutsche Telekom has agreed to purchase a 20 percent stake in OTE from buyout firm Marfin Investment Group at 26 euros a share or 2.5 billion euros. Greece is being advised by Credit Suisse, UBS and EFG Eurobank on the deal. The two sides face a May 7 deadline to reach an agreement. (Reuters)