Greek privatizations taking off


With the privatization contracts of the 14 regional airports and the Astir Palace resort signed, market experts say that if on January 12 Cosco is found to have submitted a decent offer for the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), then the sell-off program will take off in terms of revenues and prestige.

State privatization fund TAIPED has already secured the payment of 1.2 billion euros from the regional airports, and if a satisfactory bid (between 300 and 400 million euros) is tabled for the concession of the management of Piraeus port, then the revenues of the program would rise to almost 2 billion euros, including the takings from Astir Palace (100 million) and gas network operator DESFA (187 million), whose sell-off will be completed in the second quarter of the year.

The sale of 51 percent of OLP to Cosco Pacific this summer is a virtual certainty, unless there is problem with the price offered by the Hong Kong-listed company. Still, TAIPED is keeping mum on the number of offers it has received for this project.

Other satisfactory sources of revenues are expected from the extension of the Athens International Airport concession contract, the sale of 100 percent of rail carriage company Rosco and the sale of 51 percent (with an option for another 16 percent) of the Thessaloniki Port Authority. The Rosco and AIA projects could take the sum of this year’s takings to 2.5 billion euros or more. By contrast, it is considered unlikely that the project for the development of Elliniko will fetch any revenues this year.

The AIA contract extension is expected to be easier than that attempted in 2011 because this time the contractor will not be Hochtief – which was then in the process of selling its airports division – but PSP, which describes its investment in AIA as one of its most successful. Furthermore, traffic at Athens Airport was in decline in 2011, while now it is soaring. Revenues from AIA could be much greater should TAIPED choose to sell its entire 30 percent stake in the airport.