Athens glad to see Qatar re­turn

Emi­rate com­pany signs agree­ment al­low­ing it to bid for the Elliniko devel­op­ment project this sum­mer

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY VAN­GE­LIS MANDRAVELIS

Qatar is re­turn­ing to the ten­der process for the devel­op­ment of the Elliniko plot, the site of Athens’s former in­ter­na­tional air­port, cre­at­ing a new land­scape in the pri­va­ti­za­tions pro­gram.

Although prop­erty in­vest­ment com­pany Qatari Diar had orig­i­nally re­fused to sign a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment, it went ahead and did so on Tues­day, al­low­ing it to gain ac­cess to the project’s data room ahead of sub­mit­ting a bind­ing of­fer by end-July.

The re­turn of the Qataris is at­trib­uted to Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras’s visit to Doha a few weeks ago, just a month af­ter Qatari Diar re­fused to sign the agree­ment. Mar­ket in­sid­ers note that the PM and the min­is­ters who ac­com­pa­nied him con­vinced the Qataris that the Greek government had no choice other than to fol­low this pro­ce­dure, which is dif­fer­ent to what Qatar had wanted. They also con­vinced the emi­rate’s au­thor­i­ties that the ten­der will be trans­par­ent and based on mer­i­toc­racy.

There are still many, how­ever, who be­lieve that the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Qatar in the ten­der is not yet 100 per­cent cer­tain. They do not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that it might pull out by July on an­other pre­text, but the government and the state pri­va­ti­za­tion fund (TAIPED) are now de­ter­mined to make sure that doesn’t hap­pen.

Be­sides Qatar’s re­turn, TAIPED has other rea­sons to be op- timistic that it will meet this year’s rev­enues tar­get from sell­offs, which is 2.6 bil­lion eu­ros. Mar­ket pro­fes­sion­als said the re­turn of French-owned en­ergy com­pany Edi­son to the ten­der for Greece’s two main gas com­pa­nies, DEPA and DESFA, is likely af­ter French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande’s visit to Athens on Tues­day. Edi­son might also ex­press an in­ter­est in the Pub­lic Power Cor­po­ra­tion, too.

The par­tic­i­pa­tion of an­other French firm, Suez, in the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the Thes­sa­loniki Water Com­pany (EYATH) is also likely, with the ten­der set to start to­mor­row with an in­vi­ta­tion for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est. Fel­low French water com­pany Ve­o­lia is ex­pected to ex­press an in­ter­est in the Athens Water Com­pany (EYDAP).

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