ECONOMY

New sell-off timetable approved

new-sell-off-timetable-approved

Privatization fund TAIPED on Thursday approved a new business plan for the utilization of state assets, as well as ratifying the new list of pending actions that require the government’s intervention for sell-offs to proceed.

Sources say that the list – unchanged in the last 12 months – contains about 57 pending actions. The new business plan that was approved by the TAIPED board members includes the same state assets as six months ago. In total, there are 23 assets, which are now showing an additional delay of some six months in being utilized.

Three projects are at the top of the sell-off list: The privatization of 14 regional airports, the concession of the license for horse-race betting and the sale of a 66 percent stake in the natural gas transmission network operator (DESFA).

According to the timetable, the completion of all the clauses required for the transfer of the 14 airports to Fraport is expected by March 2016 instead of the original deadline of October 2015. On DESFA, the government is expecting the approval of competition authorities at the European Commission and a written committment by Azeri state firm Socar that it will refrain from any monopolistic practices.

High up on the list is also the Astir Palace Resort in Vouliagmeni, southern Attica, with all signs pointing toward a new tender for its utilization. Although the issue with Arab company Jermyn Street – which was the preferred bidder in the first round – has not closed yet, a new tender is likely.

The new TAIPED timetable provides for the project to be completed by June 2016.

Overall, the first half of next year rather than the second half of 2015, will see action peaking in the privatizations program. It will concern the utilization of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities, as well as that of railway companies Trainose and Rosco. Piraeus Port Authority appears to be a particularly thorny issue, especially given internal wrangling in the government.