ECONOMY

Venizelos to call for investors to buy Greek assets

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is expected to send letters to the eurozone governments on Wednesday to set out Greece?s plans for its privatization program, ahead of a European Union leaders summit on Friday.

Venizelos is expected to invite Greece?s eurozone partners to encourage investors to participate in the scheme. The Finance Ministry is planning to raise 1.3 billion euros by the end of September.

Among the proposed sell-offs are a share in the OPAP betting agency, the Thessaloniki Port Authority, the Thessaloniki Water and Sewage Company, Athens International Airport and the state lottery.

Greece has pledged to raise 50 billion euros from privatisations by the end of 2015 to help fund a second bailout, after it received a first 110-billion-euro international rescue last year.

Deputy Finance Minister Pantelis Economou caused a stir on Tuesday when he suggested that Greece would not meet this target as investors are more interested in buying financial instruments rather than company.

“I predict, and you will see that I’ll be right, that not everything earmarked for privatisation will be sold, but much less. This is not possible (to sell everything),» Economou told MPs.

Government spokesman Ilias Mosialos later insisted that the government aims to meet the target it has agreed with the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

The privatization program will form a vital part of Greece?s strategy to improve its public finances as it negotiates with the EU and the IMF for a second bailout.

Venizelos said on Tuesday that Athens wants to conclude the talks by the end of August as it will need a new loan instalment by mid-September.

Eurozone finance ministers were not able on Monday on how the private sector will participate in a second bailout after a French proposal for banks to rollover Greek debt was rejected.

EU leaders are likely to discuss further details during a proposed emergency summit on Friday amid growing fears about the debt crisis, so far contained to Greece, Ireland and Portugal, spreading to Italy, Spain and larger eurozone member states, creating systemic problems for the euro area and EU economy.

Venizelos suggested on Tuesday that Greece would be willing to provide collateral, such as public property, for further loans as long as the new rescue package led to Greek debt becoming manageable. It was the first time the government admitted that it would enter into such an agreement, which has been demanded by some eurozone countries.