ECONOMY

Speculation rampant that Intracom on the verge of important changes

The shedding of three large share blocks of telecoms equipment leader Intracom by its founder and president Socrates Kokkalis in the last two weeks has given rise to considerable speculation. The three blocks total 3.75 million shares and their sale has reduced Kokkalis’s stake in the company to 31.5 percent. He began selling a smaller number of shares in June. Speculation particularly centers on the two largest blocks, transferred on September 18 and 24 after Intracom’s share price dropped by 25-30 percent after the sale of the first block on September 9, falling to below 11 euros. No official explanation has been given, but company circles suggest Kokkalis may have been forced to shed the blocks in order to meet obligations for a loan taken out at the end of 1998 to pay for a holding in the company by Ericsson, which withdrew. After the planned absorption by Intracom of its software manufacturing subsidiary Intrasoft, Kokkalis’s stake in the new scheme will be around 20 percent. Other scenarios refer to a possible transfer of a controlling stake in Intracom to a foreign company, with Kokkalis remaining only as CEO. Others note that he has been strengthening the company’s hold over subsidiaries with core activities and suspending investments in other areas. According to other interpretations, the group is on the verge of important changes that have given rise to antagonistic currents mainly among the vice presidents and executives of Intrasoft, who are seeking new positions and roles. Kokkalis had been expected to address the employees of the group yesterday, according to an announcement a few days ago. Speculation had it that his remarks would have been aimed at quelling the climate of anxiety due to the absorption of Intrasoft, but the event was canceled. Other, unconfirmed reports refer to an intention by Kokkalis to withdraw from Intracom along with the entry of a strategic investor, possibly from N. America.