ECONOMY

Key to privatizations in property

The Finance Ministry is planning to appoint an adviser by the end of the year to help it sell off part of the government’s real estate portfolio, which could earn it between 3 and 5 billion euros. The government is expected to shift its efforts to raise money from its real estate assets up a gear after representatives from the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund – dubbed the troika in the local press – called for additional revenues from the government’s sell-off plan. Greece’s lenders called on the government earlier this week to boost targeted privatization revenues from now until 2013 to 7 billion euros, from the previous 3-billion-euro goal. In fact, the lenders had initially wanted the target raised to 9 billion euros but then settled for the 7-billion figure. After choosing to leave untouched its stakes in listed companies such as betting company OPAP, power supplier PPC and OTE telecom, the government has decided to earn privatization revenues in one of two ways: either by making use of real estate assets or moving more aggressively to reduce its positions in companies such as Athens International Airport (AIA) or gas company DEPA. The initial work to be completed by the adviser would involve putting together a detailed list of the real estate property owned by each ministry and state organization, along with the best way to make use of it. This will involve the adviser knocking on the door of each ministry, examining its real estate portfolio and creating a list of assets that can be developed. This work would need to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011. It will be the first time the Greek state will complete such a task, as Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou admitted recently. Regarding the development of state enterprises, the Finance Ministry is expected to appoint advisers on its stakes in AIA, DEPA and Hellenic Defense Systems in the coming days. At the same time, the government expects to complete the sell-off of Trainose, the operational arm of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) and mining company Larco in 2011, while also proceeding with the development of ports and regional airports.