Gov’t cuts holding in OTE telecom

Greece cut its stake in OTE telecom yesterday by selling a 10.7 percent stake in the country’s largest phone company in a sale that earned the government around 1.1 billion euros. Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said the shares were sold at 21.40 euros each and that demand for the private placement was strong. «With great success, the government has completed the offer of OTE shares to institutional investors,» Alogoskoufis said. The sale of the 10.7 percent stake in the company was done through an accelerated book-building process, which drew strong investor interest from abroad. The money will be used to cut Greece’s public debt, one of the highest in the European Union. PASOK, which initially started selling OTE to private investors in 1996, said the conservative government continues to sell off OTE to solve the financial problems that have arisen due to a drop in budget revenues. «Since they couldn’t move ahead with the direct sale via a strategic investor, they have moved ahead with the sell-off of a portion of shares,» PASOK said. The state now holds 28 percent of OTE. Union groups also criticized the move, saying that the government has sold the most crucial stake in the company.

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