Greek OTE to Continue Investing in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The Greek OTE company–which holds 90 percent of ArmenTel’s shares–will remain in Armenia for a long time said ArmenTel Board President Garegin Movsisian.

Movsisian–who earlier worked as a consultant for OTE–was placed in charge of his current duties after the Greek company purchased 90 percent of ArmenTel’s shares following a competition held early this year. He praised the process of the competition–saying that it earned Armenia the trust of foreign investors.

Movsisian said that OTE has scheduled to sell 20 percent of its shareholding in ArmenTel–10 percent to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and 10 percent to the Leventis Co. (Coca Cola’s Greek department). According to him–this deal will further promote Armenia’s prestige as an investment worthy country.

The significance of Armenia for OTE–said Movsisian–is that Armenia had taken the lead in the laying of a fiber-optic cable along the Black Sea to connect Europe with Iran via Georgia and Abkhazia. The laying of the Armenian section of the cable will be completed soon. OTE also values the existing centuries-old cultural and religious ties between Greece and Armenia–said Movsisian.

Reporting that OTE has scheduled to invest at least $200 million in Armenia’s economy in the next five years–as stipulated by the contract–Movsisian said that the company will introduce 120,000 digital telephone numbers by the end of this year (today there are around 16,000)–while the number of cellular phone subscribers is expected to reach 15,000 (today there are 6,000).

In addition to other major problems–Movsisian cited the need to maintain an equally high level of customer service in Yerevan and the country’s provinces. He said that in provinces the renovation of telephone networks and the introduction of digital devices is scheduled to follow the installation of a fiber-optic link.

"ArmenTel will not have dividends in the next two years," said Movsisian–noting that all profits will be used for investment purposes. He added that possibilities of receiving investment credits–in particular–from the Eurobank–are being negotiated.

Movsisian said that ArmenTel has no intention of laying off some of its 9,000 personnel.

"OTE has not come to Armenia to increase the rate of unemployment," he said–adding that the company is going to raise the salaries of regional network personnel–who earn less than their colleagues in Yerevan.

According to ArmenTel’s management–their company plans to reduce tariffs on international phone calls in the near future and introduce a per hour tariff for local telephone calls. But the latter will become possible only after at least half of Yerevan moves on to a digital system.

OTE is a national telecommunication operator in Greece–and the largest company in the country’s stock market. Eighty percent of OTE is owned by the Greek government. The company holds shares in various telecommunication companies in Serbia and other Balkan states.


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