ECONOMY

TT door opening for Greeks

For the first time since the government began to discuss the privatization of Hellenic Post Bank (TT), it is said to be leaving the door open for Greek investors who are interested in acquiring a stake. Speaking to Kathimerini, an official at the Economy and Finance Ministry said after National Bank’s acquisition of a 5.7 percent stake in TT this week that «the decision to allow the acquisition of TT only by foreign corporations in the same market was made exclusively by the government. No one has imposed it on us and no one is forcing us to apply it if we decide later that it may be better and more beneficial that we change it.» In other words, when the key time arrives, Greek strategic partners could also apply. This time seems closer than ever now. The same source commented, «We could indeed proceed with the privatization of TT but, for the time being, there are no definitive decisions on this matter either.» All signs to date show that there will not be any new developments at the government’s initiative before the start of next year. For now, the prohibitive decision remains in place, safeguarding the state’s stake, which amounts to 35 percent directly or 45 percent indirectly, as 10 percent of the TT capital belongs to the Greek Postal Service. It is this stake that in due course will become the target for candidate strategic allies with TT, a coveted part of the country’s banking system. The Economy Ministry is obviously reconsidering its original position so as not to let a golden opportunity slip through its fingers at a difficult period such as the present. Hence the message about its possible shift in policy. «TT is not as significant as, for instance, the power utility, to require so much consideration of its privatization,» a source commented, adding that «this is but a medium-sized bank that has attracted everyone’s investment interest and could develop into a catalyst for developments in the local banking system.»