BUSINESS

Skaramangas shipyards for sale

ThyssenKrupp AG is putting the Skaramangas Shipyards up for sale on April 1, after its decision on Thursday in Essen, Germany, to make cutbacks of half a billion euros per year due to the global economic crisis. The news has not taken the Greek government by surprise, according to sources, as for about a year now there have been serious problems with the shipyards that have pointed to the need for a rescue plan, not just for Skaramangas but for the entire industry in Greece. ThyssenKrupp reportedly informed the competent ministers last year about its intention to depart if certain issues it deems crucial are not solved. Now developments are forcing the government to immediately take the initiative, as the German firm has set the end of September as a deadline for the shipyard's sale, otherwise it will close down Skaramangas. The scenario that the government is considering provides for the creation of a single shipbuilding and repair body that would include the state, the Neorion group and to some extent also ThyssenKrupp, at least for the period that the German firm has outstanding contractual or other obligations toward the Greek state. »We are waiting for the government's initiative,» the head of Neorion, Nikos Tavoularis, told Kathimerini, adding that any plan will have to proceed under the supervision of the European Commission, along the lines of the Olympic Airlines privatization procedure. At the same time, the German shareholders are threatening to close down the autonomous unit producing rolling stock if by end-April they do not secure funding for the manufacture of cargo wagons and thus fulfill contractual commitments undertaken with a foreign company. To this end the German firm is exerting pressure on the Greek government to ensure Greek banks offer some funding.

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