NEWS

OTE freezes Romanian share deal

Plans by Greece’s OTE Telecom to boost its flagging initial investment in Romania’s cash-strapped state fixed-line utility by $243 million have been put on ice, OTE announced yesterday. «In view of recent regulatory developments, OTE has informed the Romanian authorities that certain issues need to be resolved before OTE proceeds further with the finalization and implementation of the transactions, as well as with any transfer of funds,» a company statement said. «Under these conditions, OTE will not be in a position to announce the specifics of the transactions and business plan until a satisfactory solution has been agreed upon.» On November 1, OTE and the Romanian government signed a memorandum of understanding under which the Greek company would increase its stake from 35 to 54 percent. But last week reports said Bucharest wanted to retain a blocking vote on certain crucial decisions. OTE, which paid $675 million in 1998 for a stake in Romtelecom that by July was worth $363 million, is reportedly seeking a cut-price buyer for its 90 percent share in Armenia’s state telecom utility.