ECONOMY

Clouds hang over 2-year-old shipyard sale

A two-year-old sale of previously state-owned Skaramangas shipyards has become tangled in a web of legal, political and economic issues and could be headed for the courtroom as the terms surrounding the privatization deal are disputed by the German buyers. German shipyard HDW, which bought the Greek shipyard two years ago, are preparing to file a suit against Piraeus Bank contesting the contractual obligations they inherited along with the purchase. Piraeus Bank owns industrial bank ETBA (Hellenic Industrial Development Bank), which was previously state-owned and was the basic shareholder of Skaramangas shipyards. At the same time, a round of talks has started between the Economy, Development and Defense ministries as HDW attempts to offload contracts with the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) and Strintzis Lines that amount to about 170 million euros. Adding to the Skaramangas shipyard’s woes is the European Union, which is investigating funds granted to the Greek shipyard after 1997 to the tune 25 billion drachmas (7.3 million euros). The money could be labeled as being illegal, which would mean that the shipyards must return the money to the government. On the money front, Skaramangas shipyards is also experiencing difficult times. According to its most recent financial reports, it reported a loss of 80 million euros. The auditor who certified the financial reports stated that if no funds are injected into the Greek shipyard’s share capital, then it will have its license revoked. On the other hand, HDW says that its major shareholder is standing in its way from completing such a move. «Our major shareholder does not allow us to put more money into Greece,» it said. HDW’s major shareholder is US One Equity Partners, a subsidiary of Bank One.