Blue chip shares fall after tax overhaul

Shares in gambling company OPAP and OTE telecom both fell on the Athens bourse yesterday, after the government upped taxes on gaming winnings and mobile telephony as part of plans to boost state revenues by some 2 billion euros. On Thursday, the Economy and Finance Ministry said it will impose a 10 percent tax on winnings from lotteries, games of chance and fixed-odd betting in a move expected to earn the state 180 million euros. Previously a tax of 5 percent had been levied on some winnings. Proton Securities described the news as being «clearly negative» for OPAP, leaving players winning small amounts with less money to keep betting and reducing the appeal of games such as Kino and Stoichima. The brokerage cut its OPAP price target to 22 euros, from 25 euros previously, while also downgrading its rating on the stock to neutral from outperform. OPAP fell 7.40 percent to 19.40 euros. OTE, which owns Greece’s largest mobile phone operator Cosmote, dropped 1.76 percent to 11.69 euros. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index eased 0.66 percent. The government also upped levies on mobile phone contracts by up to 20 percent and slapped a new tax on prepaid cards. Brokers said the news may hurt prepaid phone usage. In the first quarter of the year, about 30 percent of OTE’s group earnings, which reached 1.45 billion euros, came from its subsidiary Cosmote.