Gov’t to submit OTE bill to Parliament next week

Greece will seek Parliament’s green light to sell a stake in telecom company OTE to Deutsche Telekom (DT) next week, submitting the deal for approval, the telecoms minister said yesterday. Earlier in May, Greece clinched a deal with Germany’s DT on OTE, ending a months-long saga to find a strategic partner for the group. DT has agreed to buy a 25 percent in OTE for 3.2 billion euros, with 3 percent coming from the government, as well as running the day-to-day management of the group. «It will be tabled in a matter of days; there will be no surprises,» Greek Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis said after meeting with EU Telecommunications Commissioner Viviane Reding. The deal, which will give both sides a stake of 25 percent plus one share in OTE, needs Greek parliamentary approval, under a recent law, before it can be completed. Greece’s ruling conservatives said they will push approval through, despite having a slim majority of 151 members in the 300-seat Parliament, while opposition parties and OTE’s unions have pledged to try and block the deal. OTE’s unions have staged rolling strikes and have taken to the streets to protest against the agreement, arguing the deal is not in the nation’s interests and would eventually lead to higher prices and the loss of jobs. Reding, however, played down these concerns. «What is happening in Greece, that two telecoms are joining their efforts, is not something unusual,» Reding told reporters. «This is happening all over Europe all the time.» (Reuters)