MIG wants seat at OA talks table

Marfin Investment Group (MIG) said yesterday it was interested in buying state-owned Olympic Airlines (OA) after a tender to privatize the lossmaking national carrier was canceled. A government privatization committee said on Wednesday it will opt for direct talks with selected investors after bids for the unprofitable carrier were considered unacceptably low. «MIG decided to respond to the Greek privatization committee’s call and is ready to come to direct talks so that Olympic can continue to operate as a Greek enterprise,» MIG said in a bourse filing. MIG said Olympic’s survival was crucial for the country’s tourism, jobs and Greece’s image abroad. It said that it would be willing to grant the government the ability to re-nationalize Olympic three months after the next elections. Greece has wrangled for years with Brussels over state aid to Olympic. Its latest attempt to sell the carrier was approved by the European Commission, which agreed to suspend action over illegal state aid if the sale went ahead. «This (MIG) proposal, like any other of its kind, will be seriously examined,» said Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis. MIG’s major shareholder is Dubai Financial Group. MIG shares fell 3.45 percent to 2.80 euros. Aegean Airlines, Olympic’s only competitor in Greece, declined 5.5 percent, to 3.10 euros.

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