SYRIZA’s new privatization plan creates confusion in the market

SYRIZA’s new privatization plan creates confusion in the market

A new privatizations program proposed by SYRIZA on Sunday has generated confusion as it refers to the country’s commitment to just nine sell-off projects, instead of 23, in the period up to the end of 2017. They include Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH), whose tender terms will be changed this week to match those of Piraeus Port. It will be business as usual at state sell-off fund TAIPED for the duration of the pre-election period.

According to the SYRIZA plan, the agreement between the country and its creditors provides for “the Greek state to proceed to nine privatizations in the next three years. This forms part of the government’s necessary compromise for the sealing of the agreement and for averting the previous plan for the sale of 23 state properties, including enterprises of strategic interest and high social significance such as Hellenic Petroleum, the Public Gas Corporation and the Athens and Thessaloniki water companies.”

The nine sell-off projects that SYRIZA considers to be obligatory are the regional airports, the development of the old Athens airport plot at Elliniko, the Astir Palace Resort at Vouliagmeni, the state plot at Afandou on Rhodes, the gas transmission network operator (DESFA), the Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities, the sale of railway companies TRAINOSE and Rosco (considered as a single project) and a stake in Athens International Airport.

Market professionals accused SYRIZA of doublespeak regarding privatizations, as the country has clearly committed to 23 projects. TAIPED officials refused yesterday to comment on the SYRIZA proposal, but noted that its wording does not concern the substance of the projects, as the remaining 14 sell-offs will be managed by the new Public Property Utilization Fund, which has yet to be created.

As for OLTH, TAIPED will amend the tender’s terms on Thursday, adjusting them to match those for Piraeus Port Authority in that Athens will concede 51 percent of the OLTH shares at first, and hand over another 16 percent to the preferred bidder within five years. The timetable will provide for Thessaloniki port to change hands by June 2016, with bids expected from interested investors by February.

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