Six years on, Greece looks to Barcelona?s Games success

More than six years after the Olympic Flame went out in Athens, the Greek government has hired a city planning group from Barcelona to help redevelop a seaside complex used during the Games.

On Wednesday, Barcelona Strategic Urban Systems was named technical adviser for the redevelopment of the Elliniko complex by the Finance Ministry, which appointed a series of advisers to get its 50-billion-euro privatization program off the ground.

The company is headed by Spanish architect Josep Acebillo, who is credited with transforming Barcelona with major urban development projects ahead of the city’s 1992 Olympics.

The Elliniko complex, previously the capital?s international airport, could earn the government between 5 and 7 billion euros to help it pay down its crippling debt.

A group of Qatari investors has shown interest in the project that Greece hopes to quickly develop with the help of a recently approved fast-track process aimed at reducing bureaucratic delays.

Greece has promised its international lenders, the European Union and International Monetary Fund, to raise the full 50-billion-euro amount by 2015 in exchange for improved loan terms on the 110 billion euros it borrowed last year.

Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said on Tuesday that sell-off revenues may start to be raised by summer.

Other real estate assets used during the Games, estimated to have cost up to 13 billion euros, are likely to feature in the sell-off program.

The Finance Ministry expects to detail its privatization agenda in coming weeks, it added in a statement on Wednesday.

Citigroup and Piraeus Bank have also been appointed as financial advisers to the Elliniko project, the ministry said.

National Bank and BNP Paribas were appointed as advisers to the extension of the concession agreement for Athens International Airport.

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