OTE tries to corner state over debts

Deutsche Telekom (DT) should pay 60 million euros less for the additional stake it intends to purchase in OTE telecom from the Greek government due to money the Greek company is owed by public services, OTE said yesterday. Deutsche Telekom, which owns 25 percent of OTE, has agreed to buy an additional 5 percent stake in it from the government for 674 million euros. A government privatization commitee gave the deal the green light yesterday. OTE CEO Panagis Vourloumis said three state bodies owe the phone company some 60 million euros, the payment of which has not been settled with any agreement. Additional amounts are owed to OTE by government organizations but these cases have either been taken to court or have been settled via some form of agreement. «We told DT to offset part of these debts with [the acquisition of] the 5 percent stake. It is a serious economic problem,» Vourloumis told reporters. It was not clear whether DT, Europe’s largest phone company, will adopt OTE’s recommendation. Deutsche Telekom acquired a 25 percent stake in OTE in 2008 to expand its footprint in the Balkans. OTE, which owns the country’s largest mobile phone company, Cosmote, is present in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania.