Chinese investors discuss interest in Athens terminal

The Chinese investors interested in Athens International Airport (AIA) appear determined to claim a majority stake in the country’s main terminal, a Finance Ministry statement implied on Thursday following a meeting between minister Yannis Stournaras and their representatives.

The talks on AIA’s privatization also showed that the Chinese intend to turn Eleftherios Venizelos Airport into a hub for the transport of both passengers and cargo from Southeast Asia to Europe.

The Chinese investors expressed their interest in both the state’s 25 percent stake in AIA, currently managed by the state privatization fund (TAIPED), as well as the 40 percent stake that Hochtief AirPort holds. According to the ministry’s press release, “their intention is to secure the stake that is in Hochtief’s hands as well.”

This is the second visit concerning AIA in a month by the Chinese investors, and their third overall. The ministry noted that the potential buyers had expressed a desire to submit an offer when TAIPED announces the official tender from their first meeting with Stournaras.

On Thursday, besides meeting with the finance minister, the Chinese investors’ representatives also visited Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, while today they are set to pay a visit to the airport during which the AIA administration will explain the terminal’s main activities.

The Chinese representatives include the heads of Shenzhen Airport – China’s fourth-biggest terminal – and Friedmann Pacific Asset Management (FPA), a Hong Kong-based investment company that manages funds of about $1.5 billion.

In a separate development, TAIPED decided on Thursday to postpone the submission of binding offers for the projects of the plots at Elliniko in southern Athens and Afandou on Rhodes. The new deadline for Elliniko is October 29 and for Afandou May 22.

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