ECONOMY

Greece to unveil privatization agency team, sources say

Greece on Monday will announce the team that will head its privatisations agency set up to undertake billions of euros in asset sales to help pay down public debt, a finance ministry official said.

Athens is under pressure from its international lenders to sell stakes in key state firms, aiming to raise 50 billion euros (44.3 billion pounds) from privatisations by 2015 to pay down its debt mountain.

The divestments, a condition for a second European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout for Greece after a 110-billion-euro rescue last year, start this year aiming to meet a 5.0 billion euro target.

“The finance minister will announce the board structure of the privatisations agency on Monday,» the official told Reuters, declining to comment on names appearing in Monday’s press.

On Friday, a banking source told Reuters Eurobank executive Costas Mitropoulos would head the privatisations agency as managing director.

Mitropoulos currently heads Eurobank Equities, the investment arm of Greece’s second-largest lender EFG Eurobank.

Newspapers Ta Nea and Imerisia reported on Monday that Yannis Koukiadis, a law professor and former socialist deputy, would be appointed as board chairman and that Antonis Vartholomeos, who formerly ran utility Athens Water would join the board, proposed by the conservative opposition.

EU officials have asked the government to step up privatisations urgently and suggested setting up a trustee institution to help oversee the process, similar to the body that privatised East German companies after the fall of communism.

Greece, which has already sold a 10 percent stake in OTE Telecoms to Deutsche Telekom, plans more divestments including stakes in gas company DEPa, Hellenic Postbank, Athens Water and Piraeus Port.

Eurobank Equities covers a full range of investment banking activities, including trading in shares and derivatives, initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions. [Reuters]