Drit­sas de­parts, OLTH sale back on

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY VAN­GE­LIS MANDRAVELIS

The pro­ce­dure for the pri­va­ti­za­tion of Thessaloniki Port Au­thor­ity (OLTH) is about to restart fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of min­is­ter Theodoros Drit­sas from the Ship­ping Min­istry. Bind­ing bids for the Athens-listed cor­po­ra­tion are now ex­pected for Jan­uary.

The for­mer min­is­ter ham­pered the sell-off process, as for over two months he re­fused to put his sig­na­ture to the new con­ces­sion con­tract for the com­pany that op­er­ates and man­ages the coun­try’s sec­ond-big­gest port. He also set a se­ries of terms and con­di­tions that in prac­tice pre­vented the ac­tu­al­iza­tion of the pri­va­ti­za­tion.

The sub­mis­sion of bind­ing of­fers for the ac­qui­si­tion of 67 per­cent of OLTH was orig­i­nally sched­uled for this month. Now state pri­va­ti­za­tion fund TAIPED is aim­ing to set a dead­line for Jan­uary 2017.

Of­fi­cials close to the pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­ject say it will take at least two months after the new con­ces­sion con­tract is up­loaded in the spe­cial vir­tual data room for the sub­mis­sion of bids. The con­tract has not yet been up­loaded, and ev­ery­one in­volved is hop­ing that the ap­point­ment of TAIPED pres­i­dent Ster­gios Pit­sior­las as a deputy min­is­ter will not add to the de­lays al­ready ob­served in the pro­ject.

What is im­por­tant for both TAIPED and the gov­ern­ment is that in­vestor in­ter­est in OLTH re­mains alive, al­though it is di­min­ish­ing. There are cur­rently four groups in­ter­ested in the port cor­po­ra­tion: They are Dubai Ports World, Mit­sui from Ja­pan, In­ter­na­tional Con­tainer Ter­mi­nal Ser­vices from the Philip­pines and Deutsche In­vest. The in­ter­est of APM Ter­mi­nals – con­trolled by Den­mark’s Maersk – ap­pears to have faded since last spring.

Fur­ther­more, the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Deutsche In­vest is far from cer­tain, given that the Ger­man com­pany has not yet an­nounced the operator that it in­tends to co­op­er­ate with for the port’s op­er­a­tion. Of course Deutsche In­vest still has time to do that be­fore the dead­line or the sub­mis­sion of bind­ing of­fers.

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