Postbank-ELTA deal extended

A restructuring program under way at state-run Hellenic Postbank (TT) is expected to attract even more investors in the future. Currently, TT is being eyed by domestic and foreign banks aspiring to enter into a strategic partnership. Implementation of the program has already commenced, reports say. The overhaul of the company was also combined with a renewal of a TT partnership with the Greek Postal Service (ELTA). Based on the new contract, the two organizations will continue their cooperation at least until 2021. The contract was signed last December but the news was only recently released. In a recent TT shareholder general meeting, President and CEO Angelos Philippidis went even further in announcing a very serious parameter that forms part of the agreement and which had attracted little if any attention from the press. This regards the opening of an additional 200 «shops in the shop» by TT within ELTA’s network of branches. This, in addition to further boosting business ties between the two, would also help raise TT’s added value. Already, the two entities enjoy a tradition of special partnership, which is a point to remember by investors wishing to buy into TT. On the other hand, ELTA currently controls a 10 percent stake in TT and together with the state’s holding, somewhere in the vicinity of 35 percent, constitutes the majority being owned by the Greek state. It is this combined stake of nearly 45 percent that strategic investors are currently eyeing at TT, further focusing on a partnership also with ELTA. Scenarios regarding TT’s future are becoming increasingly appetizing. Philippidis has told shareholders, «We should become as competitive as we possibly can; otherwise, sooner or later, by this or another government, a decision may be taken toward selling the stake owned by the state.» And this was probably a signal to speed up the restructuring process, the results of which, officials say, would become visible as soon as the fourth quarter of 2008. With regard to plans to privatize TT, sources say such a procedure should not be expected to commence until the end of this year, and possibly not even within the first half of next year. But as time goes by, the list of prospective strategic investors grows. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis confirmed the government currently has no plans for a TT privatization.