Russian Railways eyes Trainose, Rosco and Thessaloniki port

Just a few days before the deadline set by Greek privatization fund TAIPED for the submission of binding offers for gas companies DEPA and DESFA, with Russian firms Gazprom and Sintez among the candidates, the Kremlin is making a dynamic entry into other key Greek sell-offs aimed at bringing much-needed funding into state coffers.

Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russian Railways and a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, took the first step. According to Kommersant newspaper, Yakunin sent a latter to the Russian president requesting approval for Russian Railways to submit a formal economic offer not just for Greek railway service operator Trainose, but also for rail carriage maintenance company Rosco and the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH).

The request for Putin’s permission for Russian Railways to make the first move is a mere formality, as he has been well aware of the matter for at least a year and has issued clear directions. Moscow’s intention not to limit its bidding to Trainose been explained by Yakunin in previous talks with Greek reporters, during which he would stress that any investment his company would proceed to in Greece would also involve either a major port or an airport.

In the same letter, the head of Russian Railways informs Putin that, after the company’s major investment in the Serbian railways, the possible buyout of Trainose combined with OLTH and Rosco would not simply constitute another success for Russian Railways but would also upgrade Russia’s position in the Balkans. It is fair to say that Russian Railways constitutes the second pillar of the Russian economy, after Gazprom.

Moscow’s interest in Greek privatizations will remain strong depending on the decision TAIPED will make on DEPA and DESFA. Sources close to Gazprom’s management told Kathimerini yesterday that for the time being the level of communication with the government in Athens is satisfactory. However, they add that after what what happened in other cases, such as the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline and the South Stream gas pipeline network, they will have to be more reserved.

Other sources say that besides DEPA, DESFA, Trainose, OLTH and Rosco, Moscow is very likely to express an interest in electrical energy in Greece, too.