BUSINESS

Gov’t pushes ahead with investment, sell-off projects

EYATH, Athens Airport, Thrace gold mine, seaplanes promoted By George Georgakopoulos

The government is taking concrete steps to put Greece back on the investors’ radar in the wake of interest expressed by the French and Qataris in previous days. A number of projects have been set in motion, while a bill to facilitate the implementation of investments was tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

The state privatization fund (TAIPED) launched on Thursday the sell-off process for the Thessaloniki Water Company (EYATH) by publishing an invitation for expressions of interest in the sale of 51 percent of the company. Interested parties will have to own assets of at least 80 million euros and must respond by April 19. The concession contract to be signed will be valid for 50 years.

Reports on Thursday suggested that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had eased Canadian company Eldorado Gold’s concerns regarding its investment in Halkidiki, following a recent arson attack on its vehicles and offices there, saying that within the next 10 days the government will approve the mining company’s gold mine project in Thrace, northeastern Greece. The investment is worth an estimated 230 million euros.

On the same day the Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) issued a report urging the government to press on with the utilization of gold mines at Halkidiki and Thrace that are believed to hold treasure worth an estimated 25 billion euros.

The sell-off of Athens International Airport seems to have moved a step closer, but not thanks to any action on the government’s part. German company Hochtief, holder of a 40 percent stake in Eleftherios Venizelos Airport, intends to sell its entire stake as well as its management rights, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday. This will bring forward the sale of a 30 percent stake the state holds in the airport, which had originally been scheduled for the second quarter of the year.

Among other things, the investment law tabled on Thursday includes the framework for the operation of seaplane terminals, whose licenses will not have a time limit. Bureaucratic obstacles to their operation will be lifted in a bid to bring new players into the as-yet-untapped market.

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