ECONOMY

Gov’t is pegging hopes on sell-offs to boost market

The government is playing its final and, it hopes, its best hand in reviving the economy and the markets in order to create a better climate. It is also making a big effort to improve public finances by banking on receipts of at least 2 billion euros from sell-offs of state-controlled firms by the end of the year. After the successful sale of an 11 percent stake in National Bank, Greece’s largest, which brought 490 million euros into the State’s coffers, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis begins a number of moves which, he hopes, will boost the Athens Stock Exchange and, generally, create a more favorable economic climate. The priorities The next move is the sale of a 15.7 percent stake in electricity company Public Power Corporation, the third stake offer in the company. The offer will be made before the end of the month and it is estimated that it will bring in revenues of about 650 million euros. The bidding for the sale of a 35 percent stake in state natural gas company DEPA, despite the initial disappointment that only one bidder, Spain’s Gas Natural, showed interest, is in its final phase. The government hopes to convince the Spanish firm to raise its offer, estimated to lie between 260 and 285 million euros, to about 300 million. Next comes the listing of Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA), a subsidiary of Greece’s National Tourism Organization (GNTO). A quarter of ETA’s shares will be offered to investors and Christodoulakis is banking on earning a further 150 to 200 million euros from the sale. Before year’s end, the government also wants to offer a 20 percent stake in Athens water company EYDAP and the company’s management, to a strategic investor. The ace The ace up Christodoulakis’s sleeve is the Postal Savings Bank, a small state-controlled bank well-known for its attractive mortgage portfolio and its appeal to small savers. He believes the bidding to acquire Postal Savings is a chance to boost the market. The interest for the bank is reputedly great and competition is expected to be very tough. Its acquisition from a large bank may precipitate further consolidation moves in the sector.