Greek Telecom Giant Plans to Sell ArmenTel

YEREVAN (AFP)–Greece’s Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) said Tuesday it was examining options to sell its 90 percent controlling share in Armenian operator ArmenTel.

"Following consultation with the Armenian government–(OTE) has begun a procedure of examining options to sell its 90 percent stake in ArmenTel’s share capital," the Greek telecom giant said in a statement.

"OTE has decided to focus on the Balkans… ArmenTel is now a healthy company… and there is a rather large interest from Russian companies and funds," said Michalis Tsamaz–managing director of OTE International.

HSBC Bank PLC has been selected to advise OTE in the procedure–the company said.

Armenia’s main telecom operator–ArmenTel in 2005 posted a net income of 45.8 million euros ($55.4 million)–an increase of 56.8 percent over the equivalent period in 2004–and had operating revenues of 119.1 million euros. OTE purchased its ArmenTel stake in 1997 at a cost of 120 million euros–Tsamaz said.

Partially controlled by the Greek state–the OTE group–which comprises the profitable Cosmote Greek mobile telephony unit and subsidiaries in Bulgaria–Serbia–and Romania in addition to Armenia–in 2005 posted a net loss of 216.8 million euros.

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