NEWS

Five firms interested in Olympic

Five companies have put in bids to buy debt-ridden national carrier Olympic Airlines and their offers will be assessed over the next two months, the government said yesterday. «We are now entering the final phase. It is a difficult phase. First of all, these bids will be evaluated and then we will enter into negotiations to see which is the most suitable offer. Time is pressing, as is the European Union,» Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said. He did not reveal the identity of each of the bidders looking to buy at least a majority stake in Olympic, but domestic carrier Aegean Airlines said on Wednesday that it had submitted an offer. German low-cost operator DBA also confirmed yesterday that it had joined with an unnamed partner to put in a bid. Three other foreign groups are thought to have made the rest of the offers. «We do not have the full details of the bids. Our financial advisers will inform us next week,» Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said. The sale of Olympic – in its fifth privatization drive since 1999 – is being handled by international financial consultants Lazards. «I think the next two months will be crucial,» said Liapis, without setting a definite date for when the government will make a final decision on Olympic’s future.