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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-14

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Govt sells 3.0 pct of OTE to Deutsche Telekom for 442.3 mln euros
  • [02] PASOK, opposition parties on OTE issue
  • [03] Fuel truck owners suspend strike
  • [04] FM on French EU Presidency
  • [05] Exercise on natural disasters

  • [01] Govt sells 3.0 pct of OTE to Deutsche Telekom for 442.3 mln euros

    The government on Wednesday officially announced the sale of around a 3.0 percent equity stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation to Deutsche Telekom for 442.3 million euros, or 29.75 euros per share, offering the German telecoms giant the management of the Greek telecoms organization.

    In announcing the agreement, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who was accompanied by Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, said the deal will give DT some 23 percent of OTE's shares, with the remaining shares ostensibly will be acquired on the market.

    Alogoskoufis also said that although the Greek state has no intent to sell-off more of its shares in OTE, the biggest telecoms provider in the Balkans, it retains the right to do so at a set minimum price for one year -- 5 percent for at least 27.5 euros per share. He also cited a similar clause for selling another 10 percent by 2011.

    In repeating various "safety clauses" retained by the Greek state vis-?-vis OTE, Alogoskoufis said the government will retain the right to veto decisions involving national security and defence; it will be represented with two appointees on a four-person "executive committee" appointed to run the company's day-to-day operations, whereas telecoms rates will fall under the jurisdiction of the independent telecoms watchdog authority EETT.

    Expectedly, the announcement of the final deal to transfer OTE's management generated a firestorm of criticism by the opposition.

    Speaking to reporters, after an inter-ministerial commission meeting approved the deal with Deutsche Telekom, Alogoskoufis said the deal will be valid only after its approval by Parliament, the European Commission and regulatory authorities in Greece and Germany. The deal paves a new road for Hellenic Telecoms and for the Greek economy in general, while it ensured workers‚ rights in the organization, he noted.

    Alogoskoufis added that a partnership with Europe‚s largest telecoms organization will strengthen OTE, both financially and technologically. The country‚s telecommunications sector will also be strengthened, he noted, adding that the government was fully satisfied with the deal.

    Under the terms of the deal, Deutsche Telekom will have to buy 3.0 pct from the Greek state at a price of 29.75 euros per share, while the German group will not be able either to buy or sell shares in OTE until 2011. A board council will comprise of 10 members, five each, while the Greek state retains the right of two vetoes over appointment of board members.

    Alogoskoufis reiterated that a National Telecommunications Commission maintains its role in approving telecoms rates. Panagis Vourloumis will remain as chairman and chief executive.

    The Greek minister said that the deal envisages consultations on labour issues under the Greek labour legislation.

    ?It is a pioneer agreement for Greece and Europe,? Alogoskoufis said noting that the deal will boost competition, offering high-quality products, while the organization will be strengthened.

    Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis said the deal was a very important step for the Greek organization and the economy in general, noting it was a balanced deal ensuring workers rights. ?Today, Hellenic Telecoms is promoted in the first league of Europe,? he said.

    [02] PASOK, opposition parties on OTE issue

    Developments on the issue of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the Deutsche Telekom company formed one of the main issues discussed during Wednesday's session of the main opposition PASOK party's Political Council, chaired by party leader George Papandreou. Statements were also made on the same issue by other opposition parties.

    PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said that "what the government is aiming at is not a strategic alliance, but the handing over and, indeed, with untransparent procedures." He said that the ruling New Democracy (ND) party "will try to undermine PASOK's position and make it appear as having two policies".

    The Political Council reached a decision concerning the issue of OTE in which, among other things, it is stressed that the corporations of strategic importance that are active in networks and infrastructures must remain under the control of the public sector.

    The relevant announcement mentions that PASOK considers OTE's "buyout agreement and the loss of its admnistration's control by the Greek public sector nationally harmful and it is struggling to avert this agreement."

    It further notes that after the elections, when PASOK will be in power, "it will exhaust every possibility to enable the public sector to regain control of the Organisation."

    Lastly, it points out that every possibility of institutional control will be exhausted, including the case of breach of faith, concerning the process of OTE's buyout, that was followed by the New Democracy government.

    Commenting on the issue, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that "the OTE chapter, began by the New Democracy party and promoted by PASOK, has been closed by ND now. The employees must not legitimise the privatisation and the consequences at the expense of the people. The struggle is continuing for an exclusively united public telecommunications agency."

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Political Bureau member Dimitris Stratoulis said that "the sellout of OTE by the government to the German Deutsche Telekom, despite the opposition of the overwhelming majority of society, is like a general bill of sale for the future of our country. It constitutes a great economic, social and national crime with incalculable negative consequences for growth, for the citizens, for the working people and national defence."

    CAPTION: File photo of PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou.

    [03] Fuel truck owners suspend strike

    The owners of fuel trucks decided on Wednesday evening to suspend their strike action that had lasted for 10 days, creating serious problems and side effects in the market, as well as for consumers, dissociating their position from that of the owners of public use trucks.

    The Federation's leadership stressed that it is not pleased by the result of the strike but, as it pointed out, it decided to suspend its strike with a feeling of responsibility and also taking into consideration social turmoil, but stressed that its struggle will continue.

    In parallel, it committed itself that as of Thursday morning it will make every effort possible to enable even the most remote fuel station to be supplied with fuel.

    [04] FM on French EU Presidency

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said in Paris on Wednesday that Greece expects a great deal from the French EU Presidency, speaking during her visit to the French capital, where she attended a dinner hosted by her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner in honor of his EU colleagues.

    France takes over of the EU Presidency in July.

    Bakoyannis stated that a meeting of 10 European Union foreign ministers was held Tuesday, at Kouchner‚s initiative, to discuss the preparation of the French EU Presidency.

    ?Greece expects a lot from the French EU Presidency, a presidency that will have many responsibilities and hopefully will undertake many initiatives,? she stressed.

    ?Europe changes, political issues are still open and it is obvious that a closer cooperation is necessary particularly in the sectors of immigration, environment and European foreign policy,? Bakoyannis said, while wishing success to France and adding that Greece will be contributing to its efforts as much as possible.

    [05] Exercise on natural disasters

    A Greek-Turkish exercise on handling natural disasters was held at the installations of the Aircraft Construction Unit at Liosia, western Attica, on Wednesday.

    The exercise was part of the framework for the implementation of confidence-building measures between the two countries. A similar exercise had taken place in Ankara in November 2006.

    Participating in the exercise were the Greek Air Force's Mobile Disaster Handling Group (KOMAK) and a delegation of the Turkish Special Forces Command TSK Dogal Afetler Arama/Kurtarma Timleri (DAK).

    The exercise's scenario concerned intervention by the two groups to tackle disasters in a military region, following a strong earthquake.

    An exchange of gifts and a commemorative photograph followed the termination of the exercise.

    In another development, a delegation of the Greek MAK unit will be visiting China on Thursday for an exchange of views on matters concerning natural disasters in light of the holding of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The visit had been scheduled and is part of the framework of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.


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