OTE privatisation law passed; sale clouded by management issues

15 Dec 2006

An amendment that facilitates the further privatisation of Greek incumbent OTE has been passed by a parliamentary majority. The law allows the state to reduce its stake in the telco below 33.3% (from its current 38.7%) and enables changes in OTE’s general personnel rules that would align labour practices with its mobile arm Cosmote. Opposition party Pan Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and labour unions continue to protest against the changes.

Meanwhile, Minister of Economy George Alogoskoufis and Minister of Environment George Souflias told journalists that the state is not prepared to abandon management control of OTE. Mr Souflias was involved in formulating the economic policy of current ruling party New Democracy (ND). Both ministers stressed that OTE is looking for a strategic partner to undertake the management in partnership with the government, to ‘protect its interests’. Industry observers commented that the bureaucracy associated with co-management will put off major international bidders. On the other hand, sources point to the fact that the government may be highlighting co-management and protection of state interests simply to ease the strong opposition. The issue of which shareholder would have the most influence over major corporate decisions relating to job cuts or restructuring remains a grey area.

Greece, Cosmote