BUSINESS

OLP stake sell-off process set to heat up in early March

By Vangelis Mandravelis

The process for the privatization of the country’s biggest port begins next week with the aim of selling a 67 percent stake in listed Piraeus Port Authority (OLP).

The process will get under way when Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, the chairman of state sell-off fund TAIPED, Constantinos Maniatopoulos, and the fund’s chief executive officer, Yiannis Emiris, present the port’s privatization plan to the competent parliamentary committee. According to all indications, the invitation for expressions of interest in the OLP stake will be issued within the first week of March.

This timetable suggests that the reactions of those who wanted OLP’s privatization model to be one of multiple concession contracts have now been overcome. The government has opted for the TAIPED plan concerning the sale of shares, which in practice constitutes a concession agreement, according to TAIPED officials.

Sources from the fund stress that the main objective of the sale of the OLP shares is to make the package more attractive to potential investors and to overcome the strong position that Chinese company Cosco has secured in the port of Piraeus.

“Dock I, the car terminal, the cruise port etc are assets that when considered together are sufficient to attract the interest of strong players in the global market,” one sell-off fund official admitted. “Had we been chasing the smaller concession contracts one by one, we would have brought in smaller and weaker investors while also increasing the complexity of the project,” he added.

In other words, the main objective TAIPED has set is to attract at least one more offer for the controlling stake in OLP, besides that of Cosco, which is taken for granted.

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