BUSINESS

Face-off over OLP board meeting location

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Privatizations, Business

The first conflict since the privatization last year of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) has emerged between the Greek state and Chinese group Cosco, the owner of 51 percent of the Athens-listed company.

State sell-off fund TAIPED, which holds 23.14 percent of the voting rights, has voted down the main shareholder’s proposal for the amendment of an article in the company’s charter so that continental China and Hong Kong be included among the locations for the meetings of the OLP governing board.

The issue was raised at the OLP annual general meeting two weeks ago, but TAIPED requested an extension to examine the matter due to reservations over whether that might be seen as a de facto change in the company’s domicile. Cosco explained that it wants that change to be able to promote to the Chinese market and public opinion its strategic holding in Greece in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, which might bring additional trade agreements for OLP.

However, TAIPED legal counselors were not convinced, and at the resumption of the general meeting on Friday the state’s representatives said they had not had sufficient time to examine the issue legally and voted against the amendment.

Even so the motion was successful, as Cosco controls the majority of voting rights while all major Greek and foreign institutionals with a holding in OLP voted in favor too. A total of 82.8 percent of shares were represented at the meeting, and of those representatives 62 percent voted for the inclusion of China and Hong Kong among possible board meeting locations, such as shareholders Lansdowne Partners and BlackRock, and Greek fund management companies Delos and Alpha Trust.

Legal sources told Kathimerini that the claim regarding a de facto change in domicile is “far-fetched” and they attributed the reservations of the state’s representatives to possible “overzealousness.”

On the other hand TAIPED sources informed Kathimerini the fund is continuing to examine the matter, in cooperation with Chinese legal firms, to clarify which legal status will prevail for the decisions made in China or Hong Kong.

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