Thinking big on privatizations

Greece could turn into an El Dorado for investors, the head of the state privatizations fund predicted in a newspaper interview on Tuesday, while forecasting modest revenues of up to 300 million euros from sell-offs this year.

Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) chief Takis Athanasopoulos told the Financial Times that ?if we can change the psychology, Greece could become an El Dorado for investors. Our advantage is that the country isn?t saturated in any sector — especially tourism.?

He went on to state that the expected revenues for the state from the privatization of the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) and the licensing for the operation of the state lotteries should fetch up to 300 million euros by year?s end. In practice, this means that revenues from the lotteries will be around 250 million.

Market experts had estimated the state?s total revenues from the lotteries at close to 500 million for the entire duration of the license, i.e. 12 years. Half of that is now expected to be cashed in up front, to bolster state revenues for the year.

Athanasopoulos also presented the outline of the privatizations plan to a Greek-Chinese entrepreneurship forum in Athens on Tuesday, stating that Greece expects some serious investment interest from China.

After the six privatizations that are already under way — development of the former airport at Elliniko in southern Athens, the state lotteries, the IBC, the plots of Afantou on Rhodes and Cassiope on Corfu, and gas companies DEPA and DESFA — the sell-off of the OPAP gaming company and the sale and leaseback of 28 state buildings are set to follow.

Up next will be the privatizations of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), Egnatia Odos, the Thessaloniki Water Company (EYATH), Larco, the Horse Racing Organization (ODIE), Hellenic Post (ELTA) and the Astir Hotel in the southern Athens suburb of Vouliagmeni, along with regional airports and marinas.

?You?ll get to hear a lot of things in the coming weeks,? said the TAIPED chief, predicting that privatizations will transform Greece and citing the example of the successful privatization of part of the port of Piraeus through the investment by China?s Cosco.

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