ECONOMY

Europe-wide appeal to investors

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is set to issue a Europe-wide appeal to governments asking them to persuade investors to participate in the Greek privatizations program.

The government is hoping to banish any market fears of a lack of interest in the country?s sell-off of state assets.

Sources suggest that the letters Venizelos plans to send to European capitals will contain the privatizations timetable, as well as briefings on the new fund and its operation. He will then ask them to encourage their local business communities to invest in Greece, effectively creating a roadshow under the auspices of the other governments in the European Union.

The new fund for the state sell-offs will play a key role in convincing foreign investors to bring their capital to Greece. Now that the fund?s board is in place, there are two more issues to be solved before it can start operating.

First, it will need to organize its accounting department in order to register the state?s assets and draft its founding charter so that it can get things moving, and, second, it must find a way to assess the value of the state property assets in its hands.

Already Germany?s Minister of Economics and Technology Philipp Roesler has thrown his hat into the ring, arguing that his ministry will make its own contribution toward the streamlining of the Greek economy.

In an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper on Thursday, Roesler stated that his federal ministry would assist in the development of new economic structures in Greece. ?We have specific support proposals for the Greek economy,? he stated, adding that ?on the other hand, German enterprises will also need to draw benefits from the future growth of Greece.?

The Greek Finance Ministry wishes to get the sell-off process under way even before the privatizations fund gets started on its work. It intends to have completed the renewal of contracts for the OPAP state betting agency and Athens International Airport as well as the utilization of the state lottery by the end of September. The target is for these projects to fetch 1.3-1.5 billion euros.