ECONOMY

Privatizations to help reduce public debt significantly

Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis is now looking to privatizations to help solve the government’s fiscal woes, after yesterday’s successful second sale of shares in state soccer pool and lottery firm OPAP. The subscription for the sale of a 24.46 percent stake in OPAP, which will leave the State holding just over 51 percent, was covered five times. The shares will be sold at 9.44 euros each, providing the government with a badly needed 723 million euros to help repay Greece’s massive debt. Christodoulakis confirmed yesterday that «economic restructuring,» including privatizations, is the «No. 1 priority,» since it helps reduce public debt, and boosts competitiveness and employment. Christodoulakis hopes that his aggressive sell-off program will be helped by prospects of a global medium-term recovery and that this will also help the Athens Stock Exchange continue its three-and-a-half-month recovery from a three-and-a-half-year slump. He warned political opponents to stop interfering with the market’s operation, hoping it will fall, and praised the work of the Capital Market Commission, the market watchdog body, saying it was of as high a quality as any other similar body in the world. The government estimates it is going to earn about 3 billion euros from privatizations, helping to lower public debt to about 100.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) from the current 105 percent level. Until yesterday, revenues from privatizations had reached 1.4 billion euros and the number is expected to rise to 1.84 billion by the end of August. Today, the government will sell to banks its remaining 33.4 percent stake in Hellenic Stock Exchanges, which includes the stock market, the derivatives exchange and the central depository. This sale will bring in 89 million euros. The Piraeus Port Authority will be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange on July 25, after a three-day subscription period. Expected revenues are about 50 million euros. Yesterday Christodoulakis announced that the only bidder for the renewal of the scratch ticket lottery Xisto, Intralot, would pay 300 million euros. Subsequent moves include the sale of a 35 percent stake in Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and the listing and sale of 25 percent of Hellenic Tourism Properties and the postal service.