Course for quickfire sell-offs charted

The government will try to privatize at least one major public enterprise, probably the OPAP gaming firm, by the end of the year in order to improve its standing with the troika, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and several key officials agreed Tuesday.

Samaras met with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the new head of the state privatization fund (TAIPED), Takis Athanasopoulos, as well as the agency?s managing director, Yiannis Emiris, to discuss the process.

Sources said that OPAP and Hellenic Postbank are seen as the two assets that can be privatized most quickly and easily. ?We have not arrived at a final decision but OPAP is the leading candidate for the marquee privatization the government is looking for,? one of the officials who took part in the meeting told Kathimerini.

The TAIPED officials informed Samaras that seven investors from Greece and abroad had expressed an interest in a plot of public land in Rhodes that contains an 18-hole golf course. Athanasopoulos and Emiris asked the government to complete 80 institutional and administrative acts — ranging from the drafting of laws to the signing of contracts — that would help speed up the privatization of other assets.

Meanwhile, Greece?s inextricable link to Europe is the key message of five television spots that will be aired through August. The ?Greece-European Union together? campaign features 10 personalities from the fields of arts, culture and sports, including German actor Sebastian Koch, British author Victoria Hislop and former Olympiakos soccer star Ollof Melberg. It was designed by the European Parliament office in Greece with EU officials in Athens and the Foreign Ministry.

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