EU gives green light to Olympic sale

The European Commission yesterday endorsed Greece’s latest plan to sell state-owned flag carrier Olympic Airlines, saying it did not breach state aid rules. Last week, Greece reached a deal to sell Olympic Airlines to Marfin Investment Group (MIG), which would pay 45.7 million euros for Olympic’s flying operations and 20 million euros for its aircraft maintenance base. «The Commission considered that the revised privatization plan does not give rise to state aid concerns,» the EU executive body said in a statement. It said the deal facilitated a faster sale of Olympic Airlines and the Olympic Airlines services’ assets instead of launching another tender. Greece launched an international tender for the airline and its assets in January, but it failed to attract big names or satisfactory bids. It then decided on a direct sale of Olympic’s assets. Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis welcomed news of the EU’s approval, saying that it shows the sale effort had been prepared «on very strong foundations.» A joint ministerial privatization committee will meet either today or tomorrow and the contracts will be sent to lawmakers for validation, added the minister, who oversaw the privatization deal. According to sources, MIG has already begun looking at cooperation with other European airlines and is searching for either new or used airplanes to buy.

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