DT invited to buy OTE stake as Greece kicks off state fire-sale

27 May 2011

Greece initiated the sale of its remaining 16% stake in fixed and mobile telecoms group OTE yesterday by sending a letter to the telco’s 30% owner Deutsche Telekom (DT) inviting the German heavyweight to talks over a 10% tranche, for which the government holds a put option and DT has first refusal rights. The office of Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said that the letter to DT’s board effectively begins the sale procedure, which received cabinet approval on Monday. DT estimates the price of the 10% stake in OTE – which includes the Cosmote mobile group covering Greece and other Balkan countries – at approximately EUR400 million (USD566 million), although under the terms of the put option the final price will be calculated at 15% above OTE’s 20-day average share price. The group’s stock value immediately rose on the news that a further stake was being offered to the Germans. In addition, the Finance Ministry says it will consider the sale of another 6% stake in OTE at a later, unspecified, date. The move is part of Greece’s EUR50 billion privatisation programme for 2011-15 aimed at reducing crippling debt and appeasing the country’s bail-out lenders. For its part, in February, OTE announced short-term cost cutting measures worth EUR32 million, and in April it raised EUR500 million in a sale of three-year bonds.

Greece, Cosmote, Deutsche Telekom (DT)