ECONOMY

Chinese investors are eyeing local airports, for starters

Infrastructure assets, mainly airports including the country’s main hub in Athens and major regional terminals, are the main focus of Chinese investors eager to bolster their presence in the Greek economy.

It is no coincidence that since Monday, two business missions have arrived in the Greek capital from China, including representatives of major construction companies. The delegations are conducting talks with state authorities such as the Development Ministry, the Invest in Greece agency and the state privatization fund (TAIPED) as well as local companies.

“The Chinese are focusing on airports in order to promote their much-desired direct air link with Greece before they move on to other sectors such as property,” a high-level official at the Development Ministry said.

Sources add that the Chinese are particularly interested in the airport at Kastelli, near Iraklio on Crete, which is a new project in practical terms, unlike the regional airports for which TAIPED has already started privatization procedures. The Kastelli airport entails a complex funding process that involves both the construction of a terminal and road links.

A month ago, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis revealed that major construction groups are interested in Kastelli, setting the project apart from the other regional airports which operating companies are eyeing.

The first of the two missions mentioned above is from Beijing and led by the Export-Import Bank of China, with an emphasis on infrastructure, while the other is from Shanghai, led by 21st Century Media, one of the China’s leading media groups. The Chinese will continue their contacts in Athens next week, while on June 25 another mission will arrive, including representatives of companies in the food, tourism and real estate sectors.