ATHENS Oct 13 Workers at Greece's largest
telecoms group OTE are opposing a government plan to
sell a minority stake in the company, fearing the state will
lose control of a strategically important company.
Greece signed up to a third international aid programme last
year and agreed to an ambitious privatisation scheme, aiming to
raise 14 billion euros ($15.68 billion) in proceeds by 2022,
including the sale of a stake in OTE.
OTE is 40 percent-owned and managed by Deutsche Telekom
. Greece currently holds another 10 percent stake in
the group and has the right to appoint five members of the
11-member board and to veto crucial decisions. The rest of the
company is owned by private investors.
The Greek government, which now plans to sell half its
stake, last week approved an amendment to a shareholders'
agreement it signed with Deutsche Telekom in 2008, opening the
way for the sale.
Details of the new agreement have not been disclosed so far,
but OTE workers fear it will lead to the state losing its
influence over the company.
"Greece is selling the stake just to raise money," said
Vassilis Lambrou, head of OME-OTE trade union, which represents
some 14,000 employees in OTE.
"By amending the shareholders' agreement, the government is
also secretly waiving several important veto rights which
safeguard state interests, while the number of its members in
the company's board will be gradually reduced," he told Reuters.
The Greek finance ministry was not immediately available for
OTE, which also operates in Romania and Albania, is Greece's
second biggest listed company with a market value of 4 billion
euros. A five percent stake in the group could bring in some 200
million euros to the state's coffers.
OTE has invested more than 2 billion euros in Greek
infrastructure projects in the last five years and plans to
spend another 1.3 billion euros on high-speed VDSL and mobile
services by 2020.
($1 = 0.8928 euros)
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Adrian Croft)