Sale of shipyard could be in peril

The sale of Hellenic Shipyards, Greece’s largest shipbuilding works located at Skaramangas, west of Athens, seems to be in peril as the winning bidder appears to be having second thoughts. Germany’s Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft-Ferrostaal (HDW) was supposed to sign a preliminary contract today to buy Hellenic Shipyards from its owners, state-owned Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) and the employees’ cooperative. According to sources, the meeting has been canceled on HDW’s initiative, which has some questions concerning some of the shipyards’ activities, notably the contracts to build passenger ships for Strintzis lines and train carriages for state-owned Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE). The Germans also appear to be worried about certain liabilities. In addition, they are opposed to cooperating with the rival bidders, Greece’s Elefsis Shipbuilding and Industrial Enterprises, as the Ministry of Development would like them to, for political reasons and to placate the losing bidders, who have threatened to resort to the European Commission over alleged irregularities in the bidding process. HDW managers have been in Athens since last week, having talks with the shipyard owners. Development Ministry officials are officially still optimistic that a deal can be reached, but some are privately despairing. Papantoniou said the second round of structural reforms was critical to strengthening Greece’s competitiveness and entrepreneurship. The program, which focuses mainly on new economy activities, is already under way following the completion of the first cycle consisting principally of equity sales in state-owned enterprises.

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