HSY files against Neorio

Hellenic Shipyards (HSY), a fully owned subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, said yesterday it had filed a complaint with the European Commission against Neorion Shipyards over unfair competition. «For us the issue is distortion of competition,» HSY Chief Executive Reinhard Kuhlmann, also a member of the board of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, told reporters. «We want a level playing field.» Neorion, which operates the Elefsis shipyard, has lodged complaints against HSY in Brussels. Neorion officials were not immediately available to comment. HSY, which was acquired by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in 2005, said the complaint refers to millions of euros in Greek state subsidies its competitor received, dating back to 1997 when Neorion was privatized, and even prior to this. HSY’s complaint relates to the rival shipyard’s sale price, the cost of layoffs when it was privatized, an early retirement scheme in 1995 and the terms of loans it got from state-controlled banks that were guaranteed by the Greek state. «Our main priority is to have healthy competition in Greece as prescribed by EU law. We are ready and willing to cooperate with all parties involved towards this aim,» Kuhlmann said. He said HSY’s objective was not to threaten the well-being of Neorion’s Elefsis shipyard but a defensive move aimed at competition under equal terms. «We see in the eastern Mediterranean Sea a lot of space for both shipyards,» Kuhlmann said. Kuhlmann said HSY had a turnaround year in 2006 and «was back in the black» but did not elaborate. Full-year results will be announced next month. «We had a good result in 2006. We managed the impossible, a turnaround. HSY has good black figures,» he said, adding that the shipyard must not rely only on state business but develop shipbuilding for an export market. HSY is seeking to finalize a contract to build state-of-the-art submarines for the Greek navy. (Reuters)

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