BUSINESS

Construction companies adjust to project concessions market

TAGS: Business

The country’s biggest construction groups are positioning themselves ahead of the restructuring of the profitable market of project concession, concerning major roadworks and infrastructure such as highways and bridges.

Recently GEK Terna set up GEK Terna Concessions, a subsidiary that will absorb all of the group’s holdings in the three highways it participates in: It owns 78.59 percent of Ionia Odos, 66.6 percent of the E65 highway across central Greece, and 17 percent of Olympia Odos, which controls the Corinth-to-Patra highway.

In the near future the new subsidiary will also absorb the stake in the company to be set up for the operation of Iraklio’s new airport at Kastelli on Crete. The concession of this project will be signed in early fall.

Sources say that with this move, GEK Terna wants to make it easier to raise funds ahead of bidding for and undertaking new projects. Group officials note that the autonomous presence of this company facilitates the process be it for bank loans or bond issues, ridding the borrowing company of other activities that may not be so attractive to lenders.

At the same time listed group Ellaktor is ready to acquire additional stakes in existing concession projects, starting with the 9.88 percent stake in Attiki Odos that Piraeus Bank has been trying to sell since April. Ellaktor controls almost 60 percent of the Attica ring road and has preferential rights for the stake that is up for grabs. Ellaktor is also examining the possibility of acquiring other stakes, possibly from a foreign group that may wish to divest from Greece.

This activity appears to be supported by the plans of the Infrastructure Ministry, which has been discussing new projects and the extension of existing highway concession contracts, in return for reducing toll payments and implementing new projects.

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