By Fotis Fotinos
The current challenges faced by the OTE Group and the investment plan for the current year were mentioned, among others, by the President and CEO Michalis Tsamaz during today’s annual general meeting of the Organization.
Mr. Tsamaz underlined that “the Group is both mature and ready to face the challenges of rising operating costs”, stressing that it had taken, before the escalation of the crisis, actions to minimize the consequences, claiming that “they will not be affected very results “.
The President and CEO noted that, despite any external uncertainties, the OTE Group is possessed by “vigilance and adaptability”, in order to meet the challenges, emphasizing the strengthening of services and products.
Specifically, the President and CEO of OTE Group proposed:
-Free speed upgrades for landline subscribers,
-Unlimited talk to all national networks, at no extra charge, to mobile subscribers,
-The strengthening of the 5G network, which by the end of the year will cover 100% in Athens and Thessaloniki and 80% nationwide,
-The continuation of investments and the increase of FTTH subscribers,
-The enhancement of the content of COSMOTE TV,
-The development of the ICT sector.
Regarding 2022 and as mentioned above, OTE intends to accelerate the development of the fiber optic network to the home, the 5G network and ICT projects. Special reference was also made to the review of the remuneration policy, with Mr. Tsamaz stating that “we are committed to continuing to reward your support, with strong operational and financial performance.”
It is noted that the revenues of the OTE Group for the whole of 2021 increased by 3.4% to 3,368.3 million euros, with the adjusted operating profit before taxes, interest and depreciation (EBITDA) amounting to 1,295.9 million euros ( + 5.9%).
The full text of Michalis Tsamaz’s speech to the shareholders
In recent years, change has become the new regularity. And last year, we experienced drastic changes and faced new challenges, geopolitical and macroeconomic, with inflation affecting our costs, especially for energy, but also the disposable income of our customers.
Having invested in the last decade in the transformation of the Group into a modern, flexible digital service provider, and having successfully faced successive crises, OTE is now more prepared than ever to meet the new challenges, and to remain on the path of growth.
Our strong competitive position was reflected in our performance in 2021. Recovering from the pandemic, we improved our financial results quarter by quarter.
We closed the year with an increase of over 3% in revenue, 6% in EBITDA profitability and 17% in free cash flow. In Greece, we have made significant progress on all revenue lines, with annual revenues increasing by 5%.
I want to express my gratitude to all our people who work with passion, enthusiasm and dedication, to build a strong OTE for the 21st century, in spite of the times and despite the growing challenges.
To ensure the recovery of our country in the long run, top digital infrastructure is needed.
We are determined to continue to lead the way in the development of the networks of the future, creating the environment in which the digital economy will develop. Our goal is to upgrade our country, and to contribute catalytically to “Greece 2.0”, the Greece of the new era.
In recent years, we have met the needs of our customers and the country for faster and more reliable fixed and mobile speeds by developing our networks, and we have recorded significant increases in data usage, capitalizing on our investments during the financial crisis and pandemic.
Now, it’s time for another big step forward. A step that will give the country a place among the most advanced countries in Europe in the field of telecommunications.
I am referring to our strategic decision to bring the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) infrastructure to 2/3 of the country. We closed in 2021 having given access to FTTH to over 560 thousand homes and businesses.
We aim to reach 1 million by the end of 2022 and 3 million by 2027. We have committed significant resources to this, increasing our investments to over 3 billion euros for the six years.
These investments are the key to our success, to our future performance and to the continuous economic progress of Greece.
But we do not stop here. We meet the current needs of our customers, utilizing our existing technological superiority.
In this context, we are upgrading internet speeds, completely free of charge, to areas where the FTTH infrastructure has not yet reached, where possible, based on FTTC technology.
On mobile, our superiority is undeniable. By the end of the year, we will increase the nationwide 5G population coverage to 80%, and in Athens and Thessaloniki to almost 100%.
The value-added services we offer, the efficiency of our applications and the flexibility we provide in the Service, maintain the satisfaction of our customers at high levels.
TV content is another of our competitive advantages. We continue to invest in quality television programming, securing exclusive broadcasting rights to top football teams and events and further enriching Over-the-Top (OTT) services.
At the same time, we continue our successful activity in the digital markets of food orders, insurance and payments, providing additional services and modern solutions.
Finally, we continue to support the digital transformation of the country, society and business by implementing important ICT projects. OTE’s know-how and experience in this field, make it a selection partner for projects of the Recovery and Sustainability Plan (RRF).
To make our vision a reality, to be the leading provider of digital services in the country, we must continue to change, transforming our business model.
We have made tremendous progress to date, transforming the Group into a flexible organization, open to new technologies, staffed with young people with knowledge and appetite, with whom we evolve together.
But we still have a long way to go. The requirements of our customers and the competitive environment require vigilance, adaptability and constant change.
Sustainable development governs our strategy and business decisions throughout our value chain. The ESG criteria are embedded in the way we operate.
They contribute to the measurement of our performance and to our communication with stakeholders on these issues, and go hand in hand with our ongoing transformation. In 2021 we achieved all our environmental goals, and we have set ambitious goals for the coming years.
We contribute to the creation of a digital world for all through the penetration of new technologies, a sustainable world through measures to tackle climate change and the efficient use of our resources, and an equal, inclusive world.
In closing, I would like to warmly thank you, our shareholders. We are committed to continuing to reward your support, with strong operational and financial performance.
At the same time, we are implementing a substantial remuneration policy, which includes the dividend and share repurchase policy that we have already implemented for 2022.
We are ready for the challenges ahead. We are convinced that the strategy we implement is the best for our customers and the markets in which we operate, for our people and our partners, but also for the investors who trust us.
Looking ahead, we will continue with the same passion, faith and commitment, to make a world better for all.
I am Derek Black, an author of World Stock Market. I have a degree in creative writing and journalism from the University of Central Florida. I have a passion for writing and informing the public. I strive to be accurate and fair in my reporting, and to provide a voice for those who may not otherwise be heard.