YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The Board of Trustees of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development approved the European Bank’s aspiration to purchase ten percent of ArmenTel shares–reported Minister of Post and Communications Artak Vartanian at a Friday press conference.
Holding ten percent of shares would make the European Bank a third partner in ArmenTel–where 90 percent of shares are held by the Greek OTE communications company–and ten percent is held by the government of Armenia. The ten percent of shares to be held by the European Bank will not decrease the shares held by OTE–but rather add ten percent to the capital of ArmenTel. Vartanian stated that ArmenTel’s capital is $175,900,000.
The European Bank has also offered Armenia a $60 million credit to be utilized in the development of the Armenian communications networks. The credit will be issued with an eight year return period.
The Communications Minister stressed the significance of the $60 million credit as it is the first credit provided for a specific industrial sector–and the first credit of its nature in the Transcaucasus region.
Vartanian also reported that ArmenTel had an exclusive long term project schedule estimated at 15 years–but has now decreased the term to five years.
He stated that ArmenTel currently has 580,000 clients and 326,000 new applicants are anticipated. Vartanian claimed that by the year 2006–20 lines will be offered to every 100 customer–and telephone communication systems will be introduced in most villages.
The Post Minister said that the postal service is poor in Armenia–and attempts to cover debt and revitalize the system are underway.