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Despairing of elbowing into the Israeli domestic communications sector, Tel Aviv-based communications company Ofek The New World hopes to find salvation through the Olympic Games.

More specifically, it hopes to take advantage of experience gained in trying to set up Israeli infrastructure, to build a domestic communications venture in Greece, which will be hosting the Games in 2004.

Europrom, a subsidiary of Ofek (65%), which is itself a 100% subsidiary of the Israeli communications company Eurocom, has bought two licenses to provide domestic communications in Greece for $13.5 million.

Ofek has roped in two Greek financial partners for Europrom, one operating out of Athens and the other out of Thessaloniki. The Athenian firm received a 35% stake in Europrom and the Thessalonikian company got 10%. Ofek holds the remaining 65%.

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All the partners agree that now the venture needs a strategic partner. Ofek is holding negotiations with several potential strategic partners in Greece, after conducting a comprehensive market survey in that country, Ofek CEO Reuben Sgan-Cohen told

Europrom will concentrate on segments of the Greek market, possibly confining itself to Athens to begin with, Sgan-Cohen said.

He denied rumors circulating in Israel's communications industry that since Ofek's talks to set up a joint venture with Cellcom collapsed, parent company Eurocom lost its taste for ventures outside Israel too.

Why Greece, though? Geographical proximity to Israel aside, it will be hosting the Olympics in 2004 and is upgrading its communications infrastructure. A lot of money will be changing hands, as Greece's communications infrastructure is less developed than in most other European countries.

In addition, Greece offers convenient financing conditions, making it attractive for investments.