ECONOMY

Olympic sale will drag on to 2002

The sale of a 51- to 65-percent stake in national carrier Olympic Airways by the State is expected to drag on to next year following the expiry of the December 23 deadline for negotiations with Australia’s Integrated Airline Solutions (IAS), according to media reports. Privatization adviser Credit Suisse First Boston had been given a 35-day period to negotiate with IAS following the suspension of talks with favored bidder Axon Airlines last month after the privately owned aviation company failed to provide a 100-million-euro financing assurance to support its offer. There has been no official word on the privatization process following the expiration of negotiations with IAS last Sunday. Though in recent days, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis has rejected the possibility of yet another postponement of the sell-off of Olympic. There is a strong possibility that talks with the Australian company could be extended for another month, Flash website reported on Monday, which would not be considered unusual in view of the fact that discussions with former bidder Axon required three rounds. It said that IAS is planning to offer 102 million euros for a 51-percent stake in Olympic following a share capital increase by the latter. It will also pay 150 million euros to the State in three equal installments for Olympic’s assets. The payment will be made a year and a half after its takeover of the flag carrier airline.