OSE privatization burdened by company debts

Greece must give clear guidance on state asset sales because debt-ridden companies like railway operator OSE will be difficult to sell, said Ioannis Koukiadis, former head of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED).

?The sale or development of any asset, whether it?s property or a company, has myriad problems,? Koukiadis said, according to an e-mailed transcript of an interview with Athens-based ANT1 radio on Thursday.

?The fund is trying to untangle a mess.? OSE, Larco General Mining and Metallurgical SA, which is Europe?s largest ferronickel producer, the Hellenic Horse Racing Company (ODIE), and other Greek companies with debt can?t be put on the market, Koukiadis said.

?Investors don?t come when you have debts,? he said. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras?s coalition government supports state asset sales and said on June 23 it will negotiate with creditors so that some projects, like OSE, be sold as public-private partnerships.

A 50-billion-euro state asset sales program, part of commitments to secure two European Union and International Monetary Fund bailouts totaling 240 billion euros, was frozen on May 16.

Koukiadis, a law professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, resigned as chairman of TAIPED on June 19, citing personal reasons. [Bloomberg]

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