Deutsche Telekom, eager to bolster its credentials as a pan-European provider of fixed and mobile services, is reportedly close to a deal with the Greek government that would see it increase its 40 per cent stake in OTE, the country’s incumbent, to 50 per cent.
According to unnamed sources at local newspaper To Vima, and cited by Reuters, the two sides are “in advanced talks” and “ready to shake hands”.
OTE’s current share price on the Athens stock exchange gives the operator a market value of around €6.1 billion, making the 10 per cent stake worth about €610 million.
Greece’s debt-laden government owns a direct 6 per cent of that stake, with the remaining 4 per cent held by state-pension fund IKA.
Private shareholders make up the rest of OTE’s shareholders.
New CEO Timotheus Höttges clearly sees OTE as important to the company’s strategy, making Greece his first subsidiary visit after taking over the helm at Deutsche Telekom on 1 January 2014.
“Our Greek subsidiary is independent and doesn’t rely on financing from the group,” said Höttges on 30 January. “The comprehensive restructuring program has greatly reduced its debt.”
Claudia Nemat, board member for Europe and technology at the German incumbent, added that the “long-term goal is to create an integrated pan-European network of mobile and fixed networks based on all IP”.
Over the past five years, OTE and Deutsche Telekom have invested about €2 billion in the Greek market. Plans are in place to invest a further €1.2 billion over the next four years.
Coinciding with developments in Greece, the German incumbent may well be able to increase its stake in Slovak Telekom in which it already owns 51 per cent.
According to local reports, the government signed a memorandum with Deutsche Telekom to sell its 49 per cent stake.
The Slovak Spectator reports there are plans for an external advisor to be brought in to value the state’s minority share in the incumbent.
After the sum is revealed, Deutsche Telekom can then decide if it wants to buy. If it declines, the Slovakian government – reports the newspaper – will offer the shares through London’s stock exchange. The whole process should be finished by the end of the year.
As part of its ambition to be a pan-European integrated operator – offering fixed and mobile services – Deutsche Telekom recently struck a €800 million deal in neighbouring Czech Republic to buy the remaining 39.23 per cent it doesn’t already own in its T-Mobile subsidiary.