ETA preparing for flotation, tapping of extensive assets

The part-flotation of Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA) on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) in January seems to be the most certain next development in the government’s privatization program. An advertising promotion has already begun for the company, which will offer 33 million shares, or 27.3 percent of its share capital, to private and institutional investors. The government hopes to raise about 170 million euros from the sale. ETA is currently busy preparing two major privatizations of its own, those of Corfu casino, and the Alimos marina on the southern Athens coastline. On Monday, the deadline for bids for 80 percent of Corfu casino was extended by a week to December 15. According to sources, about 20 hotel, construction, casino and consultancy companies have asked for the file of the tender. After a winner is selected – through a multiple-round auction, a procedure also followed in the privatization of the Mont Parnes casino – a contract will be signed transferring ownership for a lump-sum payment. The remaining 20 percent will be transferred over 50 years in exchange for a fixed percentage of the casino’s annual revenue. Regarding Alimos marina, after an unsuccessful first tender, ETA management is said to be favoring the multiple-round auction procedure for a 49 or 51 percent stake. The sale is said to be aiming at a balanced development of the marina’s onshore and docking facilities, mainly for small and midsized sailing vessels and leased yachts. ETA is also reportedly in an advanced stage of negotiations with National Bank of Greece (NBG) over a realignment of their joint ownership interests in the Astir Palace hotel, near Vouliagmeni, and other assets. It is expected that ETA will transfer to Astir ownership rights on a 12-hectare area for 16 million euros. Astir has enjoyed commercial operating rights over the area for the last 28 years. The hotel will also be given the management of Vouliagmeni marina for five years, for an annual payment to ETA of 650,000 euros, and will undertake to carry out a 2-million-euro investment program. NBG also holds the commercial operating rights for the seaside Astir Glyfada hotel and the Kammena Vourla spa facility, some 150 km (93 miles) north of Athens, which it had leased to private entrepreneurs. It has been decided that ETA will buy back the operating rights for Astir Glyfada from NBG and lease them out for 35 years through an open tender. A similar arrangement is envisaged for Kammena Vourla. ETA is also considering its participation in consortiums for the development and commercial operation of the big Athens conference center and the Anavyssos theme park.