BUSINESS

Gov't rejects ESM plan to sell assets via overseas agency

Greece dismissed a proposal by euro zone officials to hand over the management of its real estate assets to a holding company based overseas, saying over the weekend that the country would stay in charge of its privatization program.

The euro zone's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), proposed that some Greek real estate assets be transferred to a Greek-owned holding company outside Greece, run by foreign experts, to accelerate the country's flagging privatizations.

But both Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras dismissed the idea.

"The development of Greece's real estate property lies with (privatization agency) HRADF and the Greek government and that won't change,» Stournaras told Sunday's To Ethos newspaper.

In an interview with Sunday's Eleftherotypia newspaper, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras also rejected Greek media speculation that the privatization agency would move abroad.

"HRADF will stay in Greek hands. Full stop,» he said.

A euro zone official told Reuters on Thursday the plan would be put to the Greek government by the troika of lenders - the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission - in September.

The idea of transferring assets to a Luxembourg-based holding company was reported by Reuters in 2011, when Finland supported it. Luxembourg attracts multinationals seeking lower corporation tax and is home to other special purpose vehicles.

Greek officials have always rejected moving control of Greece's state property abroad, saying it would not speed up the sale of state assets.

[Reuters]

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