Greece agrees port privatisation deadlines

As part of its reforms-for-cash deal with international lenders, the Greek government has agreed deadlines for the privatisation of its two major ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

The commitment by Greece to proceed with its ambitious privatisation plan sees the country’s top ports among the first major state assets set to be sold.

The Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund (HRADF) announced binding offers for the tenders involving the privatisation of Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) would have to be submitted by October, while the deadline for offers for the northern port’s Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTh) will be February 2016.

Greece launched its EUR50bn ($55bn) privatisation programme in 2010 after signing the first bailout with international creditors, but so far has missed timetables and revenues goals by wide margins. Originally the state’s full 67% was to be sold, but this is likely to be reduced to 51% with an agreement stipulating “no material changes in the terms of the tenders”.

China’s Cosco Group, which already controls Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT), is a main contender in the sale, but faces rival bids from Danish terminal operator APM Terminals, which announced in July it was interested in both ports.

Despite the country’s financial woes, the performance of Cosco’s PCT terminal division in the first half of 2015 was stable, though overall the Chinese giant’s revenue from its terminal business was down 5% to $245.05m from $258.8m in 2014, PCT saw revenue in Euro rising 4.7%. However, as the Euro depreciated against the US dollar, revenue in US dollar terms dropped 14.3% to $78.39m from a year earlier.

Cosco reports that while Piraeus’ terminal II and III saw profit in Euro rise 22.6% from the optimisation of its terminal operations, its profit contribution in US dollar was a 0.4% increase to $15.129m, from the corresponding 2014’s period of $15.07m, a result of the depreciation of the Euro against US dollar over the 12 months.

 



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