Greece has received three binding bids for a majority stake in Thessaloniki, its second-largest port, said the country's privatisations agency (Taiped), as the state tries to privatise parts of its infrastructure to meet bailout terms. The port's chairman, Constantinos Mellios had predicted there would be four bids, but among those chasing control of the port under a concession agreement until 2051 is French giant CMA CGM.


Phillipines-based International Container Terminal Services (ICTS), Dubai-based P&O Steam Navigation Company (DP World) and German private equity firm Deutsche Invest Equity Partners Terminal Link, a subsidiary of CMA CGM and Russian-Greek investor Ivan Savvidis’ Belterra Investments, submitted offers at Morgan Stanley in London, by the March 24 deadline, Taiped said. As the deadline loomed, four bids had been anticipated but Japan's Mitsui & Co was missing.

Sale of the state's entire 67% stake in the Athens Stock Exchange-listed Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTh) was launched in 2014 and is a key part of the country's international bailouts, but has been beset by delays and political resistance and waves of strikes by port workers who claim the sale reduces the value of the port.

Revenues from the sale and other privatisations are a key part of the country’s ongoing Euro 86bn ($92.77bn) bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Indeed, Greece must raise some Euro 6bn through the sale of state-controlled assets by 2018, according to the terms of its third bailout agreement with creditors reached in 2015.

Taiped revealed no financial details of the bids and didn't set a time line for when it would evaluate the offers. Apart from the price it has to pay for the majority stake, the preferred bidder will have to implement investments of at least Euro 180m within seven years.

Though traffic volumes are relatively small now, with about 70,000 passengers and 230,000teu passing through the port according to most recent data, its potential as a gateway to Eastern Europe is considered presently untapped.

Last summer, Greece completed the sale of a 67% stake in the port of Piraeus, the country’s largest, to China's Cosco Shipping for $368.5m. Unlike the OLTh sale, this deal involved a 51% stake immediately with the remaining 16% coming at a latter stage under certain conditions, with the port's new management now complaining it's investment plans are being impeded by political interests.

Filed: 2017-03-27