BUSINESS

Consortium delays Thessaloniki Port sell-off

VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

TAGS: Privatizations

When sell-off fund TAIPED elected the consortium of Deutsche Invest Equity Partners, Belterra Investments and Terminal Link as the preferred bidder for the privatization of Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH) at the end of June, the bidder’s officials professed their readiness to take over the management of the country’s second largest port. Three-and-a-half months later, the company that will undertake the port’s management has yet to be presented to TAIPED.

Consortium spokesman Sotiris Theofanis attempted to play down the issue on Thursday, arguing that the process of setting up the corporation has been delayed for longer than anticipated due to the complexity of the project. “The corporation has been set up,” he said, adding that it aims to have completed the signing of the sale purchase agreement by end-October. If that happens, then the transaction could be completed by January 15 (i.e. the payment of 232 million euros for the 67 percent stake in OLTH that TAIPED controls).

The failure to present the new corporation to TAIPED has considerably delayed the procedure for the OLTH privatization. The main delay concerns the approval of the agreement by the State Audit Council, which in the process of inspecting the contracts has asked for the documents that confirm the creation of the corporation to acquire the OLTH shares. These documents have not been tabled, upsetting the government and TAIPED.

At a meeting hosted by TAIPED in late September, the investors promised to deliver the documents to the fund by October 16. That has not happened in full yet: “Most of the papers have been submitted, but two or three documents are still pending,” Theofanis admitted.

Unconfirmed information cites disagreements within the consortium, regarding a clash between France’s Terminal Link and Belterra, owned by Russian-Greek entrepreneur Ivan Savvidis. The clash mainly concerns the rights that each of the three members of the consortium will have in managing the port. Theofanis rejected such talk, attributing delays to bureaucracy.

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