ECONOMY

Casino bids to be unsealed this week

The privatization of the Mont Parnes Casino is entering its final leg with the State due to open the sealed bids containing expressions of interest from two interested consortia this week. Hyatt Regency together with construction company Hellenic Technodomiki have submitted one of the offers, while the other bid came from the group of Club Hotel Loutraki, Piraeus Bank, the construction companies K. Balafas, Gekat and Gnomon, and shipowner Marinakis. The assessment committee has until the end of the month to announce details of the second stage of the privatization process. The bidders will then need to submit their financial offers by early March, which will then be followed by several rounds of auctions. At the same time, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and his counterpart at Development, Akis Tsochadzopoulos, will have to decide on the percentage of the casino to be offered for sale. The most likely possibility is the sale of 49 percent of the casino, with the successful bidder taking over the management and concessions. It also seems likely that 2 percent of the casino will be listed on the stock exchange. The ministers will also need to determine the minimum auction price. It is likely this will range between 30 to 35 billion drachmas. Sources said the commercial worth of the casino is close to 5 billion drachmas. The State attempted to privatize the casino six years ago but had to call off the tender due to a lack of investor interest. In this atmosphere of apathy, very few of the social security funds showed interest in hiring financial advisers and even fewer implemented the relevant legislation, though they are empowered by the board of directors to employ a bank to advise them on managing their assets. The same and even worse could be said of the real estate owned by social security funds. The institution of the real-estate company has been inactive since 1990. An example of the sad state of affairs was the decision by property management company Alpha Astika Akinita not to renew its contract with the Social Security Foundation (IKA) following the expiry of the agreement as the Labor Ministry had disregarded its suggestion on managing IKA’s property portfolio.