ECONOMY

Losing consortium wants rerun of Mont Parnes sale

Casino Attica, a consortium led by the Loutraki casino which lost out in the bidding for a 49-percent stake in the Mont Parnes casino last Friday, yesterday called for a rerun of the privatization process, claiming that the contest had been prematurely terminated. Antonis Vgontzas, attorney for the consortium, said the contest had been dogged by irregularities, resulting in the competition committee’s decision to end the process abruptly. Casino Attica, a consortium comprising the Loutraki casino with an 87-percent stake, Piraeus Bank with a 5-percent stake, construction companies Gnomon, Gekat and Egnatia, each holding 2-percent shares, and shipowner Marinakis with a 2-percent stake, lost out to the grouping of Hyatt Hotel and construction firm Hellenic Technodomiki in the bidding for the Mont Parnes casino last Friday. Hellenic Tourist Properties (ETA), the asset management arm of the Greek National Tourism Organization, declared the Hyatt-Hellenic Technodomiki consortium the first temporary bidder after it submitted an offer of 92.1 million euros against a bid of 91.1 million euros from Casino Attica. The bid was 12 million euros higher than the minimum starting price of 80 million euros set by ETA. Casino Attica was excluded from the contest following the second round after the competition committee accepted the Hyatt-led consortium’s objection that the rival group had withdrawn and subsequently resubmitted its offer in the second round, thereby breaching the rules. Vgontzas said the protest was based on «unfounded and farcical grounds.» He urged the competition committee to repeat the second round of the contest, which would stave off a legal move by Casino Attica. He also said the losing consortium was ready to offer more than 100 million euros for the Mont Parnes casino, which would be substantially higher than the rival bid and a major boost to the state coffers. Development Ministry spokesman Lazaros Hadzinakos told Kathimerini English Edition that ETA has a choice of either letting the contest result stand as it is or repeating the second round as requested by the losing consortium. He said the tourist body is expected to make a decision today. The successful bidder for the Mont Parnes casino has an option on another 2 percent following the completion of its investment program. The casino complex contains two hotels on the premises. The Mont Parnes casino saw its market share rise to 18.3 percent in the first quarter of the year while its competitors, Loutraki and Hyatt, reported declining market shares. Profits this year are projected at 49.5 million euros against 42.3 million euros in 2001. The casino is slated for a flotation.