ECONOMY

Galileo sale stalled a week

Responding to requests from some of the potential bidders, the deadline for the submission of expressions of interest in electronic ticket reservation company Galileo Hellas has been postponed to January 24, the Transport Ministry said yesterday. The ministry last week launched the tender for the sale of the Olympic Airways subsidiary with a deadline set for January 17. Privatization advisor Deloitte & Touche had set the ball rolling in December by inviting 24 major IT and telecommunications companies in the country to declare their interest in Galileo Hellas. It asked them to come up with an indicative price tag for the company. Firms not on the list can also submit bids. The sale of Galileo Hellas is the second non-core asset of Olympic Airways put up for disposal as part of the government’s strategy to slim down the flag carrier in preparation for its transfer to the private sector. The airline has also shed long-range routes and slashed its workforce in the last year. The disposal program kicked off last year with the sale of a majority stake in catering subsidiary Olympic Catering to local fast-food chain Everest. Set up in 1991, Galileo Hellas has a 48-percent market share and a network of more than 1,000 travel agents with more than 2,000 terminals. It posted pretax profits of 3 million euros in 2001 against turnover of 8.9 million euros. The previous day, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said the latest attempt to sell off Olympic Airways should lead to a positive outcome by the end of the month. Preferred bidder Golden Aviation, led by shipowner Stamatis Restis, is currently negotiating with the government for the acquisition of a 70-percent stake in Olympic. Brussels in December ordered Olympic to repay 194 million euros to the Greek government as misused aid.