ECONOMY

Construction companies eye the maintenance of Olympic venues

The government may have said that it does not intend to sell any of the Olympic installations to private enterprise, but Greek construction companies hope that a new market is emerging – that of the maintenance of the facilities. To date, very few important such maintenance contracts have been recorded in Greece, although this particular market has been much brisker in Europe in recent years. Recent sales of the property asset management subsidiaries of the German giants Lufthansa and Siemens by the same country’s construction leader Hochtief show new interest in this market segment which many see as giving greater added value than conventional contracting. In essence, it is Hochtief that is now running Siemens’s plants in many countries and several of Lufthansa’s installations around the world. With the forecasts regarding the future of the Greek construction industry becoming increasingly unfavorable, its members are expected to register a strong interest in the maintenance of the several large Olympic installations. Such contracts detail the services that the maintenance provider will offer on a daily basis, the period after which the installation has to be refurbished (for example, repainted every three or four years). Construction company managers appear to think that the negative experiences of the past, when maintenance work of large sports installations was assigned to public services, will work in their favor. The strong groups in the industry are reported to be closely monitoring the government’s intentions regarding the future of Olympic facilities. Government officials have repeated that the stadiums and other installations, such as the media facilities, will not be sold to private companies, but have not indicated who is to operate them or how. The engineers hope that the facilities do not become the subject of bargaining between local government officials and the government, and that a comprehensive study with a view to finding the optimum model for their use will be begin as soon as possible. Another example of a construction company that operates successfully in the domain of infrastructure maintenance is France’s Vinci, the main shareholder in Gefyra, the consortium that built the Rio-Antirio bridge. Its subsidiary Eurovia is the largest provider of maintenance for highways and rail networks in Europe, with a total revenue of 5.3 billion euros in 2003. Local government The mayors of the municipal authorities that host Olympic installations yesterday met for a first exploratory discussion on the maintenance and management options available. The president of the Central Union of Municipalities (KEDKE), Paris Koukoulopoulos, said a separate study must be prepared for each installation, to determine the costs of maintenance and operation. «The issues of equipment and especially those of ownership, administration and utilization of the installations are the most crucial,» he said.