Greece's OTE raises target for early retirements
* Telecoms company seeks early exit for up to 1,800 staff
* Company to cover full 100 million euros cost - CEO
* Sale of satellite, Bulgarian units seen by end of Q1 2013
ATHENS, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Greece's biggest telecoms group, OTE, has stepped up cost-cutting efforts by increasing the number of staff it wants to take early retirement, its chief executive said on Thursday.
The company, 40-percent owned by Deutsche Telekom , is in talks with labour unions to encourage up to 1,800 employees of its Greek fixed-line unit to take early retirement, almost a fifth of the total, CEO Michael Tsamaz said.
The voluntary exit plan will be offered to staff eligible to retire by the end of 2015 while OTE, a former state monopoly, would incur the entire cost of the plan. "It will be about 100 million euros" ($130 million), Tsamaz told reporters.
This is the latest in a string of moves by Tsamaz to cut wage bills, sell assets and stem customer losses caused by heavy regulation and Greece's severe recession.
OTE's Greek fixed-line unit has lost more than 1.3 million lines since 2009, about a quarter of the total, as consumers turn to smaller, alternative carriers benefiting from the regulator's policies to undercut OTE's prices.
Company sources had said in September that OTE would send about 1,000 people to early retirement and assign new, more profitable roles to another 1,000 employees.
The number of people being assigned new roles will depend on how many workers accept voluntary retirement, Tsamaz said.
OTE operates in four countries in southeast Europe but derives most of its income from its home market.
The company is pushing ahead with plans to sell its Bulgarian unit Globul as well as its satellite operations to pay down debt maturing next year, Tsamaz said.
"We believe the (sale) process will be completed by the first quarter of 2013."
The company has to repay 899 million euros of bank loans falling due in February, followed by 1.2 billion of bonds in August.
The two units' sale will cover a large part of the debt falling due next year, Tsamaz said.
($1 = 0.7717 euros) (Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Anthony Barker)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this