ECONOMY

Scramble to unload properties

After seemingly rising forever, the Greek property market is showing signs of a healthy correction that may allow it at last to function as a normal market. However, this has also left several businesses that had invested in the property market during the heady days of 1999 and 2000 scrambling to find buyers for properties they bought dear and whose value is diminishing by the day. The properties on offer include both office buildings along prime routes, such as Kifissias Avenues, and plots of land in the same places which were bought for development. But lack of capital means these plots remain undeveloped since such investments require healthy cash flows and borrowing, lacking in these tighter times. Insurance companies, construction and industrial groups and retail chains are all seeking to unload properties they once presented to their shareholders as the geese that would lay the golden eggs. Now no one feels obliged to apologize to shareholders for ignoring valuators’ recommendations and buying these properties for as much as double as their recommended value. Connection, the fashion clothing and accessories importer and retailer which went bankrupt last month had unsuccessfully tried to sell some of its shops just before they went bust. The Allamanis group, active in construction, energy and, until recently, amusement parks, after having managed to renegotiate its debt with creditors, is now unloading much of its property. Properties for sale include an 11.5-hectare plot in the Mesogeia area, east of Athens, as well as land in Larissa and on Myconos belonging to construction subsidiary Korontzis SA. European Reliance has sold and leased back a few stores at its Kifissias Avenue headquarters. Aspis Insurance, in sore need of cash, is considering selling some of its property as well. Retailers such as the Fourlis group and industries such as Petzetakis and Klonatex are also looking for buyers.