Nine assets set for sale by next year

Greece?s privatization fund plans to complete the sale of nine assets next year, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday.

?The preparation for the development of nine state assets within 2013, if conditions allow it, has advanced significantly,? Stournaras said in a written response to a question submitted to parliament on the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED). International bidding has started for six other assets, he said.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has pledged to speed up state asset sales as the country pushes to meet targets set under two bailouts from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Greece will soon call on investors to submit binding bids for DEPA SA, the natural gas company, and the DESFA grid operator, the fund?s officials said on August 28. Plans to lease the IBC conference center will also proceed, they said.

Stournaras added that state asset sales would revive growth as well as help pay down debt: ?For each euro which comes in, another three euros will be invested,? he told Parliament?s finance committee hearing in Athens.

Separately, the ministry announced on Thursday that the government has abolished minimum state ownership thresholds for some companies to help speed up its state asset sales program and attract investors.

Hellenic Petroleum SA, Public Power Corp SA, OPAP SA, the country?s two biggest water utilities, Athens Water

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