* Deutsche Telekom “always interested” in OTE -source
* Deutsche Telekom says up to Greece to exercise put option
(Adds Deutsche Telekom statement, background, details)
ATHENS, April 19 (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) maintains its interest in raising its stake in Greek unit OTE (OTEr.AT), a Greek Finance Ministry official said on Tuesday after the government decided to sell part of its holding.
Under a deal struck in 2008, the Greek government has a put option until the end of the year to sell a 10 percent stake in the former monopoly to Deutsche Telekom, which already owns 30 percent of the company.
The government said on Friday it would reduce its 20 percent stake in OTE by the end of the year, as part of a five-year, 50 billion euros ($71.4 billion) privatisation plan to pay down debt and avoid bankruptcy. It did not say how much of OTE it would sell or to whom.
Asked on Tuesday whether Deutsche Telekom was interested in raising its stake, the Finance Ministry official said: “They are always interested.”
Deutsche Telekom has spent about 3.8 billion euros ($5.43 billion) since 2008 in amassing a 30 percent stake in southeast Europe’s biggest telephony operator to expand its footprint in Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania.
Deutsche Telekom said it was up to Greece to decide what to do with its stake. “It’s up to Greece. It has the put option and the price is set. So far, we have not received anything,” a spokesman told Reuters.
A 10 percent stake in the former state monopoly is worth about 380 million euros based on current market prices.
OTE labour unions have said they would oppose any further reduction in the state’s stake in the company. (Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, Nicola Leske; writing by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Mike Nesbit) ($1=.7005 euros)