ECONOMY

Privatized ports saw improved results over three quarters in ’03

Greek ports have benefited from privatization, posting improved results in the first nine months of 2003 compared to the same period in 2002. Leading the results are the country’s two biggest ports, the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLT), which improved their positions relative to their direct competitors in the eastern and southern Mediterranean. Other privatized ports are being upgraded through a series of infrastructure projects which are either already under way or on the drawing board. OLP posted a 9.86 percent rise in turnover during the first three quarters of 2003, to just over 108 million euros, from about 98.32 million during the same period in 2002. Gross earnings rose 8.31 percent to slightly less than 28 million, while net pretax earnings rose only marginally, to 24.24 million euros from 24.20 million last year. Investment was quite considerable, 25.76 million, as the Piraeus port is being refurbished to accommodate thousands of visitors during the Athens Olympics. Cargo handling in the Piraeus port rose 27.8 percent, while traffic volume in the cargo terminal rose 18 percent, to 1,196,269 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) from 1,013,774 TEUs in the first nine months of 2002. As for dry and bulk cargo, the volume traffic rose 19.3 percent, to 16.015 million tons. Passenger traffic rose 6.4 percent, to 10,557,299 people, from 9,925,954 in the first nine months of 2002. OLT saw its nine-month turnover rise 7.28 percent. Gross earnings rose 27.81 percent and net pretax profit was 4.284 million euros. The results were positively affected by a 34.43 percent rise in miscellaneous earnings (mainly storage and office space rents and income from Pier A buildings) and a 15.10 percent increase in immaterial earnings. Total cargo handling increased 3.3 percent and the handling of containers 11.4 percent. According to OLT management, this trend continued until the end of last year and is expected to be maintained this year, as well. OLT will be participating in the upgrading of a Bulgarian river port. This project, along with plans for developing the port’s Free Zone, will be crucial in increasing OLT’s earnings. The port of Alexandroupolis, in northeastern Greece, posted a 25.9 percent increase in earnings, while managing to cut costs by 8.75 percent. Cargo volume increased 15.5 percent, to 638,600 tons, while passenger traffic was up 5.8 percent, to about 168,000.