OLP bids by December, with OLTH in March, TAIPED chief says

OLP bids by December, with OLTH in March, TAIPED chief says

Binding bids for the privatization of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) are expected by early December and the progress of privatizations will become more apparent in the months to come, the chairman of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED), Stergios Pitsiorlas, said.

In an interview with Kathimerini Pitsiorlas, one of the founding members of governing SYRIZA, said that the government’s sell-off program is the first decisive step in returning the economy to growth and addressing many of the country’s fiscal challenges, pledging more clarity and less turbulence in the time to come.

The TAIPED chief said the binding offers for OLP will be submitted by November 30 or by early December at the latest, adding that there are three parties interested in the controlling stake. On the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH), Pitsiorlas said that submissions are scheduled for end-March 2016, revised from the original deadline for early February. There are eight investors with a strong interest in that tender, he noted.

Pitsiorlas in particular stressed the significance of Fraport’s bid for 14 regional airports, which was recently renewed. “This particular concession is very important for the development of tourism and the economy,” he said.

“The state will secure significant revenues, as some 50 percent of the net annual profits of Fraport will be paid to the state,” Pitsiorlas said. “Greece will also collect annual rent of 23 million euros and there will be a very high deposit paid reaching 1.2 billion euros, an amount that hardly anyone had expected.”

Pitsiorlas confirmed that the deal with Fraport will be signed by December and that it is expected boost the country’s image among foreign investors: “The message in all directions will be: Invest in Greece.”

Pitsiorlas avoided to set a clear target for revenues from privatizations within 2016 and went on to say that the 2-billion-euro target in next year’s budget would be too arbitrary to adopt as there are unpredictable factors such as the various bids by investors that could change the size of takings significantly, upward or downward. However, he did appear optimistic that 2016 revenues will be “very significant.”

Pitsiorlas added that one of the biggest challenges ahead of TAIPED is reversing the negative view of privatizations that prevails not just among politicians but also much of society.

“The only way for us to exit the vicious circle of salary and pension cuts is to take decisive steps for a return to growth. Privatizations are the first step to changing the economic climate,” said Pitsiorlas.

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