NEWS

Bids fly for Olympic

The privatization saga of ailing state airline Olympic Airways took on a new twist yesterday, as it became known that Australia’s Integrated Airline Solutions (IAS), at the suggestion of privatization adviser Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), significantly improved its bid, offering an amount 35 percent higher than the previous one and bringing more partners into its consortium. Recently, government officials and allied unionists were proclaiming that an agreement with private AXON airlines was only days away. IAS’s revamped bid proposes the acquisition of a 51 percent stake in Olympic for about 115 billion drachmas, plus 51 percent of subsidiary Olympic Catering, which was not originally included in the sale. The Olympic Catering acquisition will be completed ten months after the privatization of Olympic. Sources within IAS say that they have formed a consortium with various businessmen, who have all submitted letters of commitment. These include Pavlos Vardinoyiannis, through a Luxembourg-registered company, and Constantinos Angelopoulos, son of the late steel magnate Panayiotis Angelopoulos, who is joining through a shipping subsidiary. These two hold 16 percent each in the IAS consortium. Other participant include two Greek businessmen not willing to be named yet, advisers Brown and Root, Greek-American businessman Spyros Papageorgiou, the Fessas family (not Theodoros Fessas of Infoquest) and the Association of Olympic Airways pilots, who will contribute $10 million to the project. Australian Airline Qantas has already announced its participation in the IAS consortium. Several insiders believe that CSFB is encouraging IAS in order to keep a second bid alive and use it to pressure AXON to make more concessions. It is known, however,that AXON owner Thomas Liakounakos is pressuring the government not to deal with another bidder. He wants talks to finish and a deal signed by October 9. Thus, a consideration of IAS’s bid may lead to a public falling out between the government and Liakounakos. Should it acquire Olympic, the IAS consortium would pay 180 million euros in four installments, with the first coming 18 months after the acquisition. It would also contribute 150 million euros toward raising Olympic’s capital and would acquire Olympic Catering at the current capitalization value. Strike off