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EBRD boosts digitalisation in Greece with €150 million for OTE

By Olga Aristeidou

  • €150 million for Greece’s telecommunications operator OTE
  • Investment to promote digital transformation, green transition and regional inclusion
  • First project under the EBRD’s Greek RRF Co-Financing Framework, partially financed by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience loans for Greece

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting Greece’s digital transition with a €150 million investment in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation S.A. (OTE).

The project is the first under the EBRD’s Greek Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) Co-Financing Framework and will be implemented as part of the “Greece 2.0” National Recovery and Resilience Plan, funded by the European Union’s NextGenerationEU programme.

The €150 million loan consists of a €56.25 million tranche provided from the Bank’s own resources, as well as a €93.75 million tranche financed by the EU’s RRF and channelled via the Greek Ministry of Finance, which complements OTE’s contribution of €37.5 million.

The funds will enable OTE to finance part of its rollout of “fibre to the home” (FTTH) broadband infrastructure to approximately 371,000 households and businesses in 12 regions outside of Greece’s major cities, improving access to connectivity and high-speed broadband, and promoting regional inclusion. The project aligns fully with the RRF digital transformation pillar, while FTTH technology is nearly 40 per cent more energy efficient than traditional copper network cabling technology (ADSL) per unit of data transmitted. The transaction will therefore lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the green transition of Greece’s economy.

Part of the Deutsche Telekom Group, OTE is the largest technology company in Greece. It offers a wide range of products and services, including fixed-line and mobile telephony, broadband services, pay television and integrated information and communications technology (ICT) solutions.

Dirk Werner, Director of the EBRD’s Telecommunications, Media and Technology team, stressed the importance of the transaction to the Bank: “I am delighted to be signing this important deal with our long-standing partner OTE today. Our investment will help the Greek economy in its digital and green transition, while bringing reliable and energy-efficient broadband technologies to areas outside of major cities”. Andreea Moraru, EBRD Regional Head of Greece and Cyprus, added: “At the EBRD we are proud to contribute to the implementation of Greece’s ambitious Recovery and Resilience Plan and are working with our partners, the European Union and the Greek Ministry of Finance, to build a better future for the people of Greece.”

Minister of Finance for Greece, Christos Staikouras underlined: “The loan agreement signed today between OTE and the EBRD confirms the crucial role of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan ‘Greece 2.0’ in implementing investments for digital transition which will have concrete results in improving citizens’ everyday life and which will significantly contribute to promoting regional growth and innovation. Through this specific investment, which will give access to the FTTH fibre-optic network in 12 regions of the country in the coming years, digital infrastructure is reinforced and the country’s competitiveness and investment attractiveness are strengthened. Despite adverse circumstances caused by successive and overlapping crises, the Government will continue working methodically and efficiently, in cooperation with financing institutions and businesses, to take advantage of Next Generation EU funds in the best possible way and to achieve high, sustainable and inclusive growth.”

Alternate Minister of Finance for Greece, Theodoros Skylakakis, noted: “Through the National Recovery and Resilience Facility ‘Greece 2.0’, an important investment for the digital growth of the Greek region is on track for implementation. Of the €150 million of the loan agreement signed today between OTE and the EBRD, the lion’s share, approximately €94 million, comes from the Recovery and Resilience Plan and €56 million comes from the EBRD. The benefit of implementing the investment is great since approximately 371,000 households and businesses in 12 regions of the country will gradually, over the next few years, gain access to the FTTH fibre-optic network of OTE. ‘Greece 2.0’ is in full development and contributes, with the loan programme and subsidies it provides, but also with the implementation of reforms, to the investment development achieved by our country, despite the difficulties created by external factors.”

“The loan arm of the Recovery Fund is off to a strong start. An innovative programme to boost major private investments has been methodically set and today's signature underlines its value,” said the Governor of the Greek Recovery and Resilience Agency, Nikos Mantzoufas.

OTE Group Chairman and CEO, Michael Tsamaz, commented: “The financing from the EBRD is an important milestone. It is the first in the country in the digital investments pillar, with the use of Greek Recovery and Resilience Facility loans. The agreement is a vote of confidence in the company and its potential. At the same time, it contributes significantly to the rollout of OTE’s FTTH network other than in major cities and thus to Greece’s regional inclusion, digital transformation and green transition. Equal access to new generation digital infrastructure is necessary in order to create a better world for all.”

The EBRD is working with the government of Greece to support implementation of the country’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the subsequent deployment of funding to the Greek economy. The Bank’s programme will combine RRF loans managed and deployed by the EBRD, the Bank’s own commercial financing, and financing from private investors and commercial banks to achieve significant multiplier effects. Funds totalling up to €1 billion will be deployed in Greece until the end of 2025.

The EBRD started operating in Greece on a temporary basis in 2015 to support the country’s economic recovery. To date, the Bank has invested more than €5.7 billion in 92 projects in the corporate, financial, energy and infrastructure sectors of the Greek economy.

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