Greece will seek to raise as much as 3.5 billion euros ($4 billion) in 2016 from state asset sales, including the country’s two largest ports.
“An important number of privatizations will be completed very fast, in the next six months or so,” Stergios Pitsiorlas, chairman of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, said in an interview in Athens Friday. “I’m not being optimistic, I’m realistic.”
After six months of wrangling with creditors, which pushed Greece to the brink of a euro exit, the anti-austerity government of Alexis Tsipras agreed in July to develop a “significantly scaled-up privatization program,” which will generate a total of 50 billion euros in revenue over the total duration of the country’s latest aid program.
The proceeds from asset sales and other forms of monetization of public assets will be used to repay some of the new bailout loans Greece will receive to recapitalize its battered banks, as well as for financing investments in Europe’s most indebted state. The country has raised 3.5 billion euros in the past five years from privatization transactions.
Specific projects, such as the sale of a 67 percent stake in both Piraeus Port Authority SA and Thessaloniki Port Authority SA were included in the election program of the ruling Syriza party and the latest loan agreement with international creditors, so are binding, Pitsiorlas said.
AP Moeller-Maersk’s APM Terminals unit, China Cosco Holding Co and Philippine port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc are set to submit binding offers for the stake in Piraeus by early December, at the latest, with the transaction due to be completed in early 2016. The highest bid will win, he said.
Binding offers for Greek rail-services operator Trainose SA and train maintenance company Rosco SA will be made in January and for Thessaloniki port in March with both sales to be completed by mid-2016. Both Siemens AG and Alstom SA are interested in Rosco while a venture of Romania’s Grup Feroviar Roman SA and U.S. firm Watco Cos LLC will bid for Trainose, Pitsiorlas said. The fund hasn’t received official notification from Russian Railways that it’s no longer interested in Trainose, he said.
Greece will sign a concession agreement for the lease of 14 regional airports with preferred bidder Fraport AG-Slentel venture in December — with the aim to transfer the management of the airports before the 2016 summer tourist season — after Fraport renewed its offer, Pitsiorlas said.
The sale of a 66 percent stake in Greek gas-grid operator Desfa to Azerbaijan’s Socar will be completed in early 2016, at the latest. The Azeri state oil company will then sell a 16 percent stake in Desfa and “there are interested buyers,” he said.