BUSINESS

French-German consortium wins OLTH tender

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Privatizations

Following a significant delay, state sell-off fund TAIPED announced on Monday that the consortium of Deutsche Invest Equity Partners (DIEP) with the subsidiary of France’s CMA CGM, Terminal Link SAS, and Belterra Investments of Ivan Savvidis is the preferred bidder for the concession of a 67 percent stake in Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH).

DIEP controls 47 percent of the consortium, Terminal Link has 33 percent and Belterra the remaining 20 percent.

In the next few days the chief executive officer of CMA CGM, Boris Wenzel, and the managing director of DIEP, Alexander von Mellenthin, are expected in Greece to inform the government and all sides involved about the plans for OLTH. Their visit comes amid rumors and concerns about the participation in the consortium of the Savvidis group and its links to Russia.

The rumors have escalated in the past few days also due to TAIPED’s delay in announcing the preferred bidder. Moreover, Peninsular & Oriental (P&O), which belongs to Dubai Ports, remains in the picture as the “reserved bidder” in case something goes wrong with the top choice.

The visit by the companies’ officials is, according to sources, aimed “not only at highlighting their involvement in OLTH but also at emphasizing their share of the consortium, realizing the skepticism generated by the Savvidis group’s participation in the scheme.”

The details of the tender will now be submitted to the State Audit Council and the Competition Commission for the usual inspection before the contracts can be signed. These, along with the concession of the port’s full use from the state to OLTH, will then be tabled in Parliament for ratification. The payment of 232 million euros will then follow.

The entire process, if all goes well, should be completed by the end of the year at the earliest. Even so, there are several points that need clarification, such as the transitional administration of the port authority: TAIPED may decide to appoint new members at the authority’s governing board at the OLTH annual general meeting taking place early next month, or authorize one of the existing board members to run the privatization project.

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