Greece may wrap up a deal with Germany's Fraport in March for an airports concession the country promised to award to the private sector, in one of the reforms required as part of its-86 billion-euro bailout, the Greek economy minister said on Wednesday.
The comments by George Stathakis came after Fraport said earlier this month it expected delays in the 1.2-billion-euro deal. Greece has pledged to raise 1.4 billion euros from privatizations this year, a goal that is now in doubt following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's resignation.
Greece named Fraport and its Greek partner, energy firm Copelouzos, as the preferred bidder to operate 14 airports in tourist destinations, including Corfu and Santorini, at the end of last year. It was one of Greece's biggest privatizations since the start of the debt crisis.
But the agreement was thrown into doubt after the government of Alexis Tsipras took power in January.
“The privatization is progressing in accordance with the international tender, and, theoretically, it will be completed in March 2016,” Stathakis told reporters on Wednesday.
Greece had confirmed it would award the concession to the bidders and the deal would be completed in the coming weeks.
However, Fraport said last week it didn't expect talks with the Greek government over the concession would lead to its taking over the airport operations before the end of the year.
Stathakis called Fraport's announcement ambiguous and hinted that the Frankfurt-based company might have an issue with finding financing for the deal. “If Fraport wants to lower its price, this will raise an issue of a wider renegotiation that we would have to address,” he said.
Under the deal, the German-Greek group was expected to pay a 23-million-euro fee annually and to spend 330 million euros in the first four years to upgrade the airports, which it will operate for 40 years.