State sell-off fund TAIPED on Tuesday asked sole bidder Cosco Pacific to table an improved bid for the 67 percent stake of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) in an effort to secure the highest possible returns for one of the fund’s most prized assets.
Cosco’s No 3 official, chief financial officer and Chinese Communist Party commissar Sun Yueying, is in Athens to close the deal, along with Cosco’s consultant, French investment bank Lazard. The Greek and Chinese sides can achieve an agreement, but not at a level much higher than that of Cosco’s original offer.
The outcome of the effort will not only determine this privatization project but also the broader investment climate as well as the country’s bilateral relations with China. The two sides’ margin for convergence exists but is quite limited.
The improved offer that TAIPED requested on Tuesday evening from Cosco will be assessed in a fund board meeting next week. However, no announcement was made as to an exact date, nor the original bid’s size, and not even the level of the assessments by the two independent consultants, the Kantor-Deloitte consortium and American Appraisal Hellas.
In the absence of any other bids, TAIPED is using the assessments of its consultants as a yardstick and negotiating asset, which is why it did not reveal their precise conclusion, even to Cosco, as Kathimerini understands. However, this strategy appears to have upset the Chinese side, which has waited over two years for the completion of the tender process.
Sources say that Cosco is prepared to raise its bid, but not much higher given that it sees OLP’s stock value has dropped well below its offer.
Hong Kong-listed Cosco already operates container terminals II and III in the port of Piraeus and will add Terminal I to its portfolio if it lands the OLP majority stake.