ECONOMY

Three groups eyeing Trainose

The first stage of the Trainose privatization process was completed on Monday, with three major players in the European railway industry having expressed an interest.

The Greek railway service operator is being wooed by France’s Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF), Romania’s Grampet Group, which controls private railway company Grup Feroviar Roman (GFR), and Russia’s Rossiyskie Zheleznye Dorogi (RZD), which is bidding jointly with Greek company GEK-Terna.

Chinese company Cosco, which had been considered a possible candidate, has not made a bid. However it may take part in the second stage by joining one of the three bidding groups, with the most likely target for such a consortium being Grampet. Cosco wishes to combine its port handling operations in Piraeus with railway services.

Meanwhile the chairwoman of Russia’s Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, told Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during an official visit to Athens on Monday that Russian energy giant Gazprom intends to participate in the new tender for Public Gas Corporation (DEPA). She added that there is strong interest on the part of Russian companies in investing in Greece and that Moscow is determined to support those investments.

The Russians appear to have a similar plan to Cosco’s, as they are also eyeing the port of Thessaloniki. Matviyenko said that RZD is interested in Trainose’s parent company, the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) as well as in Thessaloniki Port Authority.

Senior market officials discern the possible maximization of value of those state properties when combined, as both the ports and the trains can only be utilized by investors who are active in the forwarding industry. By contrast, passenger transport companies may not be able to utilize these assets to the full.

State privatization fund (TAIPED) officials agree, and say that it is only firms that ship goods and could fill Trainose’s carriages with cargo that could bid for the port of Thessaloniki.