ECONOMY

Hellenic Shipyards wants to expand its activities

Hellenic Shipyards, the Skaramangas-based shipbuilder, could become Thyssen Krupp’s industrial partner in Greece, the shipyard’s new chairman and CEO, Giorgos Paterakis, told reporters yesterday. Thyssen Krupp, the German industrial conglomerate, last year acquired Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), one of Hellenic Shipyards’ owners – the other being consortium partner Ferrostaal – from its former owner, US-based One Equity Partners. With this move, Thyssen Krupp became Europe’s largest shipyard owner. In his first meeting with the media, Paterakis appeared guardedly optimistic about Hellenic Shipyards’ prospects under the new ownership. The new management’s top priority, he said, is to convince the Thyssen Krupp board to look at Hellenic Shipyards not only as just another shipyard but as the springboard for a variety of industrial activities. Hellenic Shipyards’ expertise in steelworks has allowed it to expand into rail-carriage building in recent years. Paterakis added that he has spoken about his plans to government officials with whom he expects to arrange a meeting with Thyssen Krupp officials. The Greek state, specifically the navy, is Hellenic Shipyards’ biggest client. According to Paterakis, Thyssen Krupp could take part in self-financed projects, including in the energy sector. HDW had been involved in lawsuits with the Greek state over the construction of warships. On several occasions, HDW had threatened to pull out of Greece altogether. Paterakis said Thyssen Krupp took a more conciliatory approach and left open an eventual withdrawal of the lawsuits. He added that Hellenic Shipyards was also willing to cooperate with Elefsis Shipyards, its main domestic competitor, in bidding for navy contracts. Smoothing relations with Hellenic Railways is also a top priority, he said. Asked if Hellenic Shipyards could again become a major builder of merchant ships, Paterakis said this was unlikely given the intense price competition by Asian shipyards. «Perhaps tax breaks would help,» he said.