MIG, Swissport make offers to buy out Olympic

Buyout firm Marfin Investment Group (MIG) and ground-handling service Swissport submitted binding bids for the sale of state-owned Olympic Airlines (OA), the government said yesterday, breathing life into a privatization procedure that collapsed last week. Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, who is overseeing the sale, said Greece has been offered 177.2 million euros for OA and that talks with interested investors are scheduled to take place over the next three weeks. «This, of course, does not predetermine the final outcome of the talks,» the minister said, adding that other potential buyers will be able to submit their investment proposals. In a bid to sell the lossmaking airline easier, Greece has split the airline into three parts – the flight schedule, ground handling and aircraft maintenance. MIG offered 45.7 million euros for Pantheon, Olympic’s flight operations branch, and 16.7 million euros for the aircraft maintenance unit. Swissport, the airport ground-services business owned by Spain’s Grupo Ferrovial, upped its recent offer for ground-handling services to 44.8 million euros. All offers cover the minimum values attached to each asset by the government’s advisers. Last week’s tender procedure was called off after the bids were deemed too low, and the state’s privatization committee called potential investors for direct talks. MIG was the only new candidate, while Swissport upped its previous offer, from 33 million euros, after already having shown interest. Transport Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said earlier this week there was continued investor interest in the airline but stopped short of providing further information. «The government’s revenues will be even more (than 177.2 million euros) due to the sale of additional assets, such as airplanes and ground-handling equipment,» added Hatzidakis. Greece’s privatization program this year aims at raising 1 billion euros in revenues but the government has yet to outline what assets it intends to sell.

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