ECONOMY

Railways look at property

The state-owned Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) is the second-largest property owner in Greece, after the Church. Yet, it has done nothing, thus far, to develop its extensive property portfolio, which includes prime land in the centers of Athens and Thessaloniki, in Piraeus and around Greece. A newly founded subsidiary, GAIOSE, now faces the task of identifying the properties, estimating their value and deciding on their development. It will have to deal, however, with the slow and ineffective administrative procedures of its parent company. According to its statute, GAIOSE is a mere operations instrument, with no executive prerogatives. All but the most minor decisions will have to be made by OSE. A first plan for the development of OSE property had been drawn up in 1998. However, the tender to recruit an adviser was nullified by the European Union, because two applicants had been judged equally qualified during the assessment stage and OSE chose one by lottery. Since then, no serious effort has been made. One result of OSE’s long-term inaction in respect to its property is that the organization has yet to take ownership of hundreds of inheritances by faithful employees who left their property to the company. GAIOSE’s management has decided to set up joint ventures for each separate development, with OSE holding the majority of each, and another company, preferably a construction firm, being the minority shareholder. He said the four ships had been sold according to proper market valuations at the time. He added that Enterprises had suffered severe financial damage after the bondholders impounded three of its other ships – the Panthermax, Ocelotmax and Lionmax – in ports in Canada and South Korea. «By arresting these ships, they’ve cost the company about $20 million in lost income and value,» he said.