German transport company Fraport on Thursday expressed concern over the progress of the privatization process for 14 Greek regional airports, with the preferred bidder for the concession of the terminals citing delays in the procedure despite state sell-off fund TAIPED officials’ recently expressed optimism.
Fraport, which controls Frankfurt Airport, said it was unsure whether the privatization would go ahead at all and that it does not expect an agreement to be reached within the year.
“At this stage, in the context of the political and macroeconomic developments in Greece, it is not certain if and when an agreement can be reached,” Fraport’s management stated in a report accompanying the company’s first-quarter financial results.
“The forecast for the 2015 financial year provides for no impact from this particular transaction,” Fraport added, in a swing away from the estimate it made three months ago upon the release of its 2014 results, when it said the deal would be sealed either at the end of 2015 or in early 2016.
The German firm’s message has two target audiences: first, the Greek government, which is beating about the bush on this privatization, and, second, its own shareholders, who are alarmed as Fraport’s management has committed hundreds of millions of euros to the project, and many shareholders may now consider the company’s involvement in the Greek market a waste of time.
It is obvious that the German investors will not wait for the the government for much longer, either to complete the negotiations with its creditors or to take a firm stance on the issue of infrastructure privatizations.
On a more positive note, TAIPED and contractor Lamda Development on Thursday held their first meeting since the change in government. The meeting, called on the fund’s initiative, apparently broke the ice with the consortium that won the tender to utilize the old Athens airport plot at Elliniko and showed that despite the delays, Lamda remains eager to get started on the massive development project in which it has invested so much time and effort.
According to TAIPED officials, the meeting took place in a good atmosphere and the contractor’s side informed the fund about the area’s development master plan. It also explained that Elliniko will be open to all citizens as this is what state law dictates and the area’s effective utilization demands.
TAIPED’s new management stopped short of committing itself to a timetable for the unblocking of the investment as it appears to be expecting the government’s nod for that to happen.