ECONOMY

Glencore expresses interest in Larko and EYDAP

Glencore, the multinational mining and commodities trading company, has expressed interest in the privatization of Larko, an old ailing mining concern, and EYDAP, the Athens water supply company, according to sources.

The Swiss-based group is said to consider that Greece presents investing opportunities that it can tap with the ample liquidity it possesses following its public offering of shares at the London Stock Exchange last spring. Glencore raised about $11 billion, of which, to date, only $500 million has been invested in copper mines in Congo.

Larko appears as Glencore?s first target, although such an investment seems small by its standards: In 2010, Larko?s reported revenues of 150 million euros were dwarfed by Glencore?s $145 billion. The multinational is said to have looked into investing in Larko?s nickel mines in 2009, but without finally expressing interest.

Although EYDAP would be the first water supply company that Glencore would invest in anywhere in the world, well-informed sources said it did not appear at all hesitant to do so. Besides, it also has holdings in the farm produce market, despite the fact that its activities focus on metals and minerals.

?The company, besides the liquidity it has raised via the IPO, is also forecast to report $8 billion in net profits in 2011,? said a source close to the company. It added that Greece is within Glencore?s investment purview, on the one hand because capitalizations have collapsed — producing attractive opportunities — and, on the other, because Greek-American Telis Mistakidis, one of the multinational?s basic shareholders, wants to help Greece in the current, difficult economic circumstances. His share in the company, 35 percent lower after Glencore?s listing on the LSE, is now 5 percent — worth 2.5 billion euros.

Sources say that Mistakidis, who has recently multiplied his contacts in Greece, is personally interested in EYDAP, but does not rule out any other broader public sector assets that may come up for privatization. However, Glencore?s expression of interest in any such scheme will naturally depend on the terms and the adoption of transparent procedures, they add.

?After the Siemens affair, Greece has earned a negative reputation abroad and the big multinationals are now guarded in their dealings with the Greek state,? said a source close to the group.

However, the supervision of a team of international inspectors dispatched by Greece?s creditors is seen as ensuring more transparency.