Three ATE subsidiaries to be listed, the rest sold off

The management of Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) will decide next month on the fate of seven of its subsidiaries – Hellenic Sugar Industry, dairy cooperative Agno, the Greek Cooperative Cigarette Manufacturing Company (SEKAP), dairy Dodoni, the Hellenic Animal Feed Industry (ELVIZ), dairy Rodopi and ATE Leasing. The options considered by ATE management is to float part of some companies on the Athens Stock Exchange. These would most likely be Dodoni, SEKAP and ATE Leasing. The others will likely be sold off directly to private investors. The plan is said to be strenuously opposed by local farmers’ cooperatives, which own a 40-percent stake in Dodoni. Cooperatives associations PASEGES and GESASE also oppose the sale of Hellenic Sugar Industry, SEKAP, Rodopi and Agno. They are also opposed to government plans to gradually relinquish the management of ATE, cutting its stake from 85 to 35 percent. The government’s withdrawal from its dominant position in these companies will take place under conditions of transparency and in a way that will not undermine their value, but, on the contrary will help maximize their potential, a top ATE manager told Kathimerini. All the companies, with the exception of Agno, are profitable. For the 2001-2002 fiscal year (ending on June 30), Hellenic Sugar Industry forecasts turnover of 96 billion drachmas (281.73 million euros), up from 92 billion drachmas (269.99 million euros) the year before. Profit is expected to rise to 6 billion drachmas (17.61 million euros) from 4 billion drachmas (11.74 million euros) in 2000-2001. SEKAP is expected to be listed on the bourse either in late 2002 or early 2003. Turnover for 2001 is forecast at 30 billion drachmas (88.04 million euros) and net pretax profit at 500 million to 1 billion drachmas (1.47 to 2.93 million euros). Agno is expected to post a loss of 5 billion drachmas (14.67 million euros) on turnover of about 15 billion drachmas (44.02 million euros). Several Greek dairy industries are interest in acquiring it, along with Holland’s Friesland. Employees are fiercely opposed to privatization, however.