Ex-PPC head at TAIPED?s helm

Former Public Power Corporation chief executive Takis Athanasopoulos was appointed on Wednesday to the helm of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED). He faces the tough task of making up for ground lost in the battle to bolster state revenues through the sale of public companies, the lease of public buildings and the issuances of licenses for a variety of activities.

The government named Athanasopoulos, a former Toyota executive, after several days in which the fund had been left without a head following the departures of chairman Ioannis Koukiadis and chief executive Costas Mitropoulos. Ioannis Emiris, head of investment banking at Alpha Bank SA, was named chief executive.

Athanasopoulos has a credible record following a successful clash with the powerful union of PPC, GENOP, during his stint as the power giant?s chairman and chief executive from 2007 to 2009.

Now at the helm of TAIPED, Athanasopoulos will need to kick into high gear immediately as the team of inspectors from Greece?s creditors — known as the troika — are in Athens on a fact-finding mission to determine the extent of the country?s compliance with the bailout program, of which privatizations form a key part. The future payment of bailout tranches will depend on the troika?s report, expected in September at the earliest.

The target for sell-off revenues this year is set at 3 billion euros, though Mitropoulos said after resigning last week that the government will hardly manage to reap 300,000 euros from privatization projects in 2012.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has repeatedly said that the sale of state assets is a priority for the government, which is already behind on its revenue collection targets.

The privatization process has been stalled since late April due to the general elections in May and June.

The issue of sell-offs will be integral in the meeting on Thursday between Samaras and the leaders of the other two coalition parties, Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis.

Samaras has pointed to TRAINOSE, the operating arm of rail company OSE, and energy as his sell-off priorities.

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