Finance Ministry backs Cosco deal in Piraeus, not further privatization

The Greek Finance Ministry denied on Tuesday that it is planning to go ahead with the sale of a 67 percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) after a report suggested that the privatization would take place.

The ministry emphasized, though, that it is “positively inclined” to the existing deal with Chinese shipping giant Cosco for the container terminal.

“In reference to publications regarding statements by a Finance Ministry official on the privatization of the Piraeus Port Authority, the position of the ministry on this particular issue is that it is positively inclined toward the existing contract with Cosco,” the ministry said. “There was no reference to the issue of OLP.”

The statement comes following a report in the Wall Street Journal refuting earlier statements by a Greek government official that the sale of the port authority will be put off and that the Cosco agreement would be reexamined.

“The Piraeus sale is on. It will proceed as planned,” a senior Finance Ministry official reportedly told the US newspaper.

On January 27, the deputy minister in charge of shipping, Thodoris Dritsas, had told Reuters that the government would be freezing the sale.

“We will not sell a majority stake in Piraeus port,” Dritsas told Reuters. “The Cosco deal will be reviewed to the benefit of the Greek people.”