ECONOMY

Grimaldi expresses interest in Piraeus’s Hellenic Seaways stake

grimaldi-expresses-interest-in-piraeus-s-hellenic-seaways-stake

The main stakeholder in Minoan Lines, Emanuele Grimaldi, is rushing to pre-empt the sale of the Piraeus Bank’s holding in Hellenic Seaways (HSW), in which the Italian shipper owns a 33.35 percent stake through Minoan. Speaking in Spain, Grimaldi expressed his intention to buy out Piraeus’s directly and indirectly controlled stakes in HSW, which amount to 40 percent.

Coastal shipping sources that are also in contact with the credit sector told Kathimerini that Grimaldi only wants to obtain control of HSW if it considers the price attractive. “The Grimaldi Group wishes to either to buy cheap or sell dear,” a source noted.

The same sources added that Grimaldi’s Minoan Lines has listed its holding in HSW among its financial assets available for sale, at a price close to 50 million euros, and that in recent talks the group appeared prepared to pay a price of no more than 10 million euros for the 40 percent stake in HSW.

In Piraeus the Grimaldi statements are being seen as an effort to pre-empt any developments related to the possible entry of a strategic investor in HSW similar to the investment by the Fortress Group in Greek coastal shipping firm Attica Group.

HSW’s financial position currently appears considerably improved in any case. The Greek ferry company, under the management of chief executive and stakeholder Antonis Agapitos, has returned to operating profits that are expected to add up to almost 20 million euros this year. It has secured a deal for the restructuring of its loans in accordance with crediting banks.

The verbal (for now) expression of interest by Grimaldi is also associated with the general competition in the sector. The restructuring of the Greek coastal shipping industry and the improvement in the results of HSW and Attica Group have strengthened their position in the Adriatic, where the Grimaldi Group has managed to increase its market share at the expense of the Greek firms during the crisis years.