Decisions, actions for all-important privatizations now expected after snap elex in Greece

Tuesday, 28 May 2019 12:57
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By F. Zois

A handful of decisions and pending actions related to all-important privatizations in thrice bailed-out Greece must now await snap elections in the country - which will probably be held no later than July 7 - according to reliable sources who referred directly to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF).

Ideological differences in privatization policy between ruling SYRIZA and main opposition New Democracy are well-documented, with the hard left party, in the first case, essentially opposed to to practically all privatizations but nevertheless having promised to fulfill "prior actions" cited in three successive bailout agreements (memorandums).

Among its successes are the landmark privatizations of the port authorities of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, as well as 14 regional airports around Greece. Conversely, still no construction at the southeast coastal Athens site of Helleniko, the biggest property development project in the Mediterranean basin, and a handful nullified tenders in the energy sector (PPC lignite-fired power units, petrochemical group, the country's natural gas grid and the state-run natgas provider) are its biggest failures to date.

Center-right ND, on other hand, has repeatedly and prominently stated that it backs accelerated and more privatizations in the recession-battered country.   

At present, the transfer of another 10 regional ports to a "superfund" is pending, although the current Tsipras government is intent on holding international tenders for specific services at the ports, and not offering the management - along with a majority of the share capital - of the entire port authorities, as was the case in Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

Meanwhile, the floating of another 30-percent stake of the Athens International Airport is expected to begin in the autumn, following a recent extension of the concession contract for Greece's biggest and busiest airport.

According to reports, the Canada-based PSP Investments fund, which already holds a 40-percent stake of the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport of Athens, wants the tender procedure for the other 30 percent to commence as soon as possible, while acknowledging, however, that the election may delay the process.

Moreover, the prospects are uncertain for another 23 regional airports - sans the 14 awarded to a German-Greek consortium for 40 years - around the country, air transport facilities with lower commercial value. A delayed tender process and legal challenges have also delayed construction of a massive logistics hub in industrial district of Thriasio - west of Athens proper.

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