OLTH’s privatization under review
Senior government officials are expected to look into the possible relaunch of the tender to award the Thessaloniki Port Authority’s (OLTH) cargo management services at the start of January after the abrupt withdrawl of the previous winner. A joint venture, consisting of Hutchison Port Holdings, HPI Sarl and Alapis Holding, withdrew its interest last week to run container operations at Greece’s second-largest harbor, citing the downturn in the global economy. Sources have said that Merchant Marine Minister Anastassis Papaligouras, and Finance Ministry and OLTH officials are scheduled to examine on January 7 or 8 whether to proceed with a new tender or delay it until economic conditions improve. Putting off the privatization would provide time for a better decision to be made, said a port official. On the other hand, halting the privatization process could be seen as a failure by the conservative government to implement its policies and someone would have to take responsibility for this, the source added. Government officials are also expected to consider awarding OLTH’s cargo management services to Cosco, the company that came second in the tender process after the Hutchison joint venture. However, this is seen as unlikely, due to the low price offered by Cosco and competition issues that may arise since the Chinese company was recently chosen to manage cargo services at Greece’s main port of Piraeus.