ECONOMY

Hellenic Shipyards sale still in suspense as buyers HDW keep pressing for contracts

The sale of Hellenic Shipyards, Greece’s largest, officially agreed upon last October, still drags on, as buyers Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW)-Ferrostaal stick to their demands that they not be liable for delays in delivery of orders already placed by the Greek State and that the shipyard receive more contracts from the Ministry of Defense, beyond those already promised and which are worth 2.93 billion euros. HDW-Ferrostaal also wants to retain fewer than 1,400 of the existing 2,000 employees. According to sources close to the shipyards, HDW-Ferrostaal’s aim is to turn the shipyard into a builder of military ships, in this way making certain that they will always have contracts to fulfill as well as being subsidized for their work. According to the same sources, the government would not like to see this happen, simply because of the reaction from the two remaining major shipyards, Neorion on the island of Syros and Elefsis Shipbuilding and Industrial Enterprises. Both shipyards belong to the Tavoularis group. Yesterday, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos met with Nikos Tavoularis, head of the rival group. There were no announcements afterward, but it is assumed that Tavoularis argued against Hellenic Shipyards’ becoming the government’s sole defense contractor. As defense minister until last October, Tsochadzopoulos had pressed, unsuccessfully, for the inclusion of the Tavoularis group in a consortium that would acquire Hellenic Shipyards. Other demands voiced by shippers include the abolition of a clause in a recent law that prohibits them from using the crew for repair work while the ship is in dry dock, higher prices for beverages sold on board and an end to their obligation to carry letters and parcels free of charge.