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 country’s HRADF privatisation fund announced last week that binding offers for the tenders involving the privatisation of Piraeus port authority would have to be submitted by October, while the deadline for offers for the northern port of Thessaloniki will be February 2016.
Greece launched its EUR50 billion (USD55 billion) privatisation programme in 2010 after signing the first bailout with international creditors, but so far has missed timetables and revenues goals.
On first coming to power in January 2015, the governing Syriza party vetoed the sell-offs of the two ports. However, the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has now been forced into a U-turn as part of a package of reforms that were a key condition of the latest bailout loan offered by its European Union creditors.
As well as the two ports, Greece’s state railway company will be sold off, while the Official Gazette announced that the German airport authority, Fraport, will be granted the concession for 14 regional airports in Greece, another sell-off that Syriza had blocked.
China’s COSCO Group, which already controls Piraeus Container Terminal, is among the main contenders in the sale of a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority.
However, it faces rival bids from terminal operator APM Terminals, which announced in July that it was interested in both ports. “We’re interested in the Greek ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki and are pursuing them as part of our growth plans,” Francois-Xavier Delenclos, vice-president of business development at APM Terminals, told journalists in July.