Russian Railways (RZD) has proposed to its main shareholder, the Russian state, that it drop out of the tender process for Greek railway companies organized by Greece’s state sell-off fund. A report by Russian news agency RIA Novosti said that it is not yet known whether Moscow has accepted the proposal.
If that is indeed the case, there will be a major shift in the Greek privatizations program, especially as far as Trainose is concerned.
In cooperation with Greece’s GEK Terna conglomerate, RZD is supposed to be one of the two bidders in the tender for the 100 percent sale of the Greek railway service company. The other suitor is Romania’s GFR in cooperation with US firm Watco.
The departure of the Russians will also affect the privatization tenders for rail carriage company Rosco and Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH). However, both those tenders will have enough bidders to proceed.
The government and TAIPED appeared to be taken aback by the Russian proposal for withdrawal, although the Greek side was never too optimistic about the intentions of the Russian prospective investors. The experience of Gazprom’s withdrawal from the privatization process for the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) is still relatively fresh. The RZD decision may well be due to the change in the company’s management with the departure of chairman Vladimir Yakunin.
Market professionals said on Thursday it was hard to say whether the decision was made on business or political grounds, although it is worth bearing in mind that Athens and TAIPED did not satisfy the wishes and requirements of RZD.