OLTH sell-off in the fi­nal stretch

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

The Thes­sa­loniki Port Au­thor­ity (OLTH) pri­va­ti­za­tion project is set to suf­fer a fresh, al­beit small de­lay, but it is now in the home stretch.

It ap­pears that the Fe­bru­ary 14 dead­line for the sub­mis­sion of bids will be ex­tended by about 20 days. Sources say that the con­ces­sion con­tract’s sec­ond re­view phase was com­pleted be­fore Christ­mas, but state pri­va­ti­za­tion fund TAIPED has not com­pleted the in­cor­po­ra­tion of the com­ments re­ceived in the fi­nal draft. This is ex­pected to hap­pen by the end of this month for in­ter­ested par­ties to re­ceive the fi­nal draft of the con­tract.

Af­ter the sub­mis­sion of that text to the data room for can­di­date buy­ers, there will be a pe­riod of about one month for the sub­mis­sion of their bind­ing of­fers. There­fore, the dead­line will be put back to endFe­bru­ary or early March.

A cru­cial point is that this last re­view phase ap­pears to have smoothed the edges of the con­tract that po­ten­tial in­vestors had op­posed: The first con­cerned the OLTH as­sets that Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras had promised to give to the peo­ple of Thes­sa­loniki, and the sec­ond was re­lated to the min­i­mum level of con­tainer han­dling.

The first is­sue fired up many lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, who wanted to claim all of the port’s Dock I, but it ap­pears that the new OLTH – af­ter pri­va­ti­za­tion – will re­tain con­trol of five out of the 14 build­ings on the dock.

As re­gards the min­i­mum amount of con­tain­ers han­dled, the tar­get set now for the end of the first five-year pe­riod is not very dif­fer­ent to to­day’s (ie 350,000 con­tain­ers per an­num).

In­vestors be­lieve that it is not fea­si­ble to set much higher tar­gets, as TAIPED and the gov­ern­ment had de­sired, dur­ing a pe­riod of high in­vest­ments by the pre­ferred bid­der and de­vel­op­ing the port’s in­fra­struc­ture.

Kathimerini un­der­stands that in­vestors re­main par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in OLTH, as out of the eight au­tho­rized par­tic­i­pants in the bid­ding process, there are at least five who re­main ac­tive.

They are Mit­sui, Dubai Ports, ICTS, Deutsche In­vest and GEK Terna.

au­thor­i­ties in Thes­sa­loniki got fired up by the prime min­is­ter’s prom­ise to give the city’s res­i­dents part of the port, as they wanted to claim all of Dock I, but it ap­pears that the new OLTH – af­ter pri­va­ti­za­tion – will re­tain con­trol of five out of the 14 build­ings on the dock.

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