ECONOMY

Major stake of old Athens airport site to be sold

Greece will sell as much as 70 percent of the company with the rights to manage and develop the Hellinikon airport site outside of Athens, according to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund?s executive director for real estate.

?Between 66 and 70 percent will be sold in the tender,? Andreas Taprantzis said in an interview in his Athens office on January 25.

The site, which includes Athens?s former international airport, covers 6.2 million square meters (66.7 million square feet) of land, three times the size of Monaco. It will be one of the largest development sites in Europe.

The Hellenic Real Estate Fund last month started a public tender process for a majority stake in Hellinikon SA, which will hold the rights to develop the site under a long-term lease. The sale is part of the fund?s effort to raise 65 billion euros ($85.2 billion) by 2015 from state-owned assets to help Greece raise cash to cut debt.

?When the project is sold on at some point in time we, or whoever is in charge of the fund at that time, may decide to sell the stake or retain it,? said Costas Mitropoulos, chief executive officer of the fund.

Mitropoulis declined to disclose the duration of the lease or the revenue it could generate, saying only that it will last ?decades? and be long enough for the developer and its lenders to make their money back on the investment.

Greece, trying to avoid a default, is negotiating with creditors on a deal to help cope with the country?s public debt. Three months ago, private bondholders agreed to a 50 percent reduction in the face value of more than 200 billion euros of debt by swapping bonds for new securities.

[Bloomberg]