Marfin lands Olympic

Marfin Investment Group (MIG) is the winner of the race to acquire Olympic Airlines, according to sources. After long negotiations the group yesterday reportedly agreed with the government to buy out the embattled national carrier, putting an end to years of uncertainty about the private investor that would try to save Olympic from closure. The deal provides for MIG acquiring the flight arm of the company along with its technical division, with Swissport, its partner in bidding, taking the ground-handling operations. The agreement is still subject to European Commission approval, although well-informed sources suggest that this will not present a problem. MIG had issued an ultimatum to the government, saying that if a deal was not signed by yesterday, the deadline set for negotiations between the two sides, it would withdraw its offer. The government came under pressure as it tried to buy some time by requesting an extension until Monday, citing the fact that it had not yet received a response from the Commission. At the same time, the government had to juggle with two more bids that came in late, one from Aegean Airlines and the other from Chrysler Aviation. The latter’s lack of capital adequacy virtually ruled it out automatically, while Aegean’s offer raised concern about a possible monopolistic situation. The risk of Aegean being the sole player left in the market, were it to buy out its rival, led to the political decision in favor of selling Olympic to MIG. Marfin offered 45.7 million euros for the flight division of Olympic, plus a further 60 million euros for the share capital of Pantheon, the company set up to manage flight operations. It also matched the government’s valuation of 16.7 million euros for the technical arm. Swissport offered 44.8 million euros for the ground-handling operations, also matching the official valuation, by upping its bid from the original 33 million euros. In total the bid amounts to 177.2 million euros, which is 10 million euros higher than the official valuation.

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