Port chairman opposes privatization agenda
The chairman of the main Greek port of Piraeus yesterday publicly opposed the government’s plans to privatize the harbor as part of a broader asset sale to reduce the country’s crushing debt. Giorgos Anomeritis, a former merchant marine minister, told the port authority’s general assembly that the “Thatcherite” model of full privatization is obsolete and most of Europe’s waterways are state-controlled. Thousands of Greeks have been protesting over the past week against the sale of choice state assets, including the near-monopoly telecom and electricity operators and the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki. The government has announced plans to sell up to its entire 75 percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) by the end of the year. “The Thatcherite model of full port privatization has been abandoned even by its staunchest proponents,” Anomeritis said. “Ninety-six percent of ports in united Europe belong to the state and municipalities,” he said, arguing that 51 percent of the port, one of the busiest in the Mediterranean, should remain under public control. OLP currently has a concession agreement with Chinese global shipping giant Cosco, which is running two of the port’s container terminals. Greece is under pressure to raise as much money as it can from its assets to secure continued support for its troubled economy from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The three organizations last year helped rescue Greece from bankruptcy with a 110-billioneuro ($161 billion) loan, but Athens is likely to need additional funds to maintain repayments on a debt that has exploded to 350 billion euros. (AFP) ros ($7.9 billion) of Tier 1 capital, Londonbased analysts Simon Adamson, John Raymond and Puja Poojara wrote in a report yesterday. Erik Burns, a spokesman for the lender, said he had no immediate comment. Credit Agricole SA has 21.7 billion euros – 37 percent of Tier 1 capital – at risk through its Emporiki Bank SA unit, making it the non-Greek lender with the largest absolute amount outstanding, according to CreditSights. Societe Generale SA, which owns Athens-based Geniki Bank, has exposure of 5.9 billion euros, amounting to 17 percent of Tier 1 capital. Brussels-based Dexia SA has 5.4 billion euros outstanding in Greece, equivalent to 29 percent of its capital, according to CreditSights. Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second-largest lender, has 2.9 billion euros at risk in Greece, or 9 percent of its Tier 1 capital, according to the analysts. (Bloomberg) over their high holdings of government bonds and speculation the country may have to restructure its debt, the highest in the euro’s history. Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to 78 billion euros in additional austerity measures and asset sales through 2015 to secure a 12-millioneuro installment of a bailout agreed last year and meet conditions for an additional rescue package. In May last year, Greece agreed to the measures in exchange for a 110-billion-euro European Union-led bailout. The government and central bank will extend 30 billion euros in additional state guarantees, contingent on banks detailing how they will wean themselves off ECB money. ECB funding to Greek banks is down 10.9 billion euros since December.