ECONOMY

Well-heeled ETA plans flotation and is seeking suitable partner for growth

The government is to seek a private strategic partner for Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA), which owns a huge stock of real estate, immediately after the company’s planned part-flotation on the Athens bourse in November, sources say. ETA is to float an estimated 25 percent of its share capital, from which the government is hoping to raise 150-200 million euros, while another 15-20 percent is planned to be sold to a strategic partner in the first four months of 2004. The application for listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) is projected to be submitted around mid-October and approval from the Capital Market Commission should be obtained by November 5. Ministers take the view that ETA, being the first property rights management company to be listed on ASE, will be a «pilot» for other enterprises, mainly in the wider public sector. They also believe that the listing will attract strong interest from investors which will facilitate the sale of a further stake to a strategic investor. Better results forecast ETA management forecasts that the company’s turnover will rise from 139.3 million euros last year to 152.3 million in 2003, and pretax profits will more than double from 43.5 million to 108.3 million euros. It manages a portfolio of rights to more than 357 properties throughout Greece, totaling 7,000 hectares. Such rights include administration and management of ongoing concerns, idle land and leases. A significant number of properties (137) whose commercial utilization is not considered financially beneficial due to various restrictions and commitments, will be ceded to other agencies, the government and local authorities. 72 mature plans A further 72 properties have been picked as the most «mature» commercially and are considered ETA’s «dowry» for its listing. Of these, procedures for tapping their commercial value are already under way for 23 and, for others, are in the stage of preparations. ETA’s investment program includes a 13-million-euro Olympic marina in front of the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus and the upgrading of facilities in five border entry stations (6 million), in the Parnassos Ski Center (1.7 million) and in the Kammena Vourla camping site, on the highway to Lamia. The company is also forming partnerships with local authorities for the creation of parklands; recreation areas, such as on Lycabettus Hill in the center of Athens (3 million euros); in Mikrolimano in Piraeus (1 million) and the Flisvos marina park in Palaio Faliron (2 million); and in upgrading the Mount Parnitha National Park (300,000 euros annually). In about 10 cases of large land properties, the plans include large holiday residential developments that are to be characterized as greatly beneficial to tourism and ETA is to make use of particular presidential decrees that expedite licensing procedures.