ECONOMY

DT-OTE deal almost done

The acquisition of a stake in OTE telecom by Deutsche Telekom will be completed later than originally planned, as talks with the Greek government on management control of the company continue. Deutsche Telekom’s acquisition of a 20 percent stake in OTE from Marfin Investment Group for 2.5 billion euros ($3.9 billion) will be completed within two weeks, the Athens-based investment fund said in a bourse filing yesterday. Marfin had set a May 7 deadline for the deal, which hinges on Deutsche Telekom getting Greek government approval for management control and to buy an additional stake. Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s biggest phone company, is seeking growth through OTE’s wireless assets in Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as increased US mobile phone competition dents earnings. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday the government agreed to sell 3 percent of its 28 percent stake in OTE to Deutsche Telekom. Greece wants more than 26 euros a share and will have the option to sell more shares in the future, Alogoskoufis told state-run television NET. The talks are continuing on other issues, including price, he said. OTE yesterday was valued at 9.59 billion euros. Union pressure Separately, OME-OTE, the federation of trade unions at OTE, said today it may take legal action if the group doesn’t receive a briefing on the talks. It cited similar court rulings requiring companies to provide information on mergers, such as a January ruling related to the Gaz de France merger with Suez. OME-OTE’s lawyers sent a notice on the issue to OTE and Alogoskoufis demanding to be allowed to give an opinion, according to an e-mailed statement from the federation today. The federation begins a two-day strike against the planned deal as of tomorrow. OME-OTE wants management of the former phone monopoly to stay in state hands, fearing the loss of jobs or benefits under Deutsche Telekom. Under the new arrangement, Deutsche Telekom will appoint OTE’s chief executive officer and the Greek government will name the chairman, Alogoskoufis said. Deutsche Telekom will also have to consult with the Greek government over labor issues, he said. (Bloomberg) D.Telekom under pressure on Sprint reports FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Shares in Deutsche Telekom retreated and Sprint Nextel stock advanced yesterday amid media reports that Germany’s largest phone company is looking at a possible purchase of the US wireless group. Deutsche Telekom shares fell 1.2 percent to 11.64 euros by 1126 GMT, the leading decliner among German blue chips, while Sprint shares were indicated more than 10 percent higher at $8.70 in pre-market trading. Such a deal would vault Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA unit past AT&T und Verizon Wireless to the number one spot among US mobile phone service providers, but analysts were skeptical Telekom would pull it off. «I cannot imagine that Telekom would decide to make this step at this stage,» said Heinrich Ey, a fund manager at Allianz Global Investors. Sprint Nextel’s depressed share price may make a takeover seem attractive, but the deal would require massive investments to integrate different network technologies, he said. Sprint has been running two networks which are different from T-Mobile’s GSM infrastructure, and its new UMTS systems are expected to launch by mid-year.