18 December, 2006
The government intends to sell about 20% of its shares in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) to a "strategic partner or ally", Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said in an interview issued on Sunday by the Greek newspaper "Vima".
Management of the telecom company would be shared by the buyer and the public sector, while the framework of this collaboration would have to be compatible with European Union regulations, he added.
Alogoskoufis said that the plan to further privatize OTE was a strategic one for the government but would be aborted if the appropriate ally could not be found. In this case, however, the government might opt for further securitization of OTE stock, he added.
According to the timeframe set by the government, the process will be completed by the middle of next year, so that the "strategic partner" might be chosen.
Asked why the government had abandoned plans to privatize state-controlled companies operating at a loss, Alogoskoufis pointed out that this was impossible because no one was willing to buy losses.
"There is nothing in our program about privatizing loss-making companies. For these companies the first priority is their reform, before you can think about any kind of privatization," he stressed.
Regarding the situation at Greek ports and the problems caused by an overtime boycott begun by dock workers protesting against the privatization of selected port services, the finance minister noted that this was an initiative exclusively handled by the merchant marine ministry, not his own, while noting that there was not disagreement between the two ministries on this issue.
Source: Athens News Agency