As part of a controversial package of austerity measures, the Greek government is currently promoting several privatization projects. In this framework, Greece will be looking to sell a 29% stake in betting monopoly OPAP and offer a 35% stake in oil refining giant Hellenic Petroleum to help cut the country's debt.
Selling stakes in OPAP and Hellenic Petroleum, Greece's third and fourth biggest listed firms by market value, would be an important step for the indebted nation, which has repeatedly missed targets set by its EU and IMF lenders and needs investments to exit a deep recession.
Costas Mitropoulos, the chief executive officer of Greece's privatization agency, told Israeli reporters Sunday that the government is also offering investors 12 ports, 34 airports and several development projects, including a 650-kilometer (404 miles) highway linking a sea port in western Greece to Turkey.
Mitropoulos, who is in Israel to find potential buyers for Greek assets that are up for sale, said the agency hopes to sell 20 billion euros worth of assets by 2015 and reach the 50 billion euro mark by 2020. So far, he said, Greece has raised $1.6 billion by selling gambling and cell phone franchises.
The Greek official said Israeli investors have already expressed interest in a number of Greek assets that are being privatized. According to him, an Israeli investment group has expressed interest in a tender for the privatization of state-owned gas company DEPA, and two Israeli companies are interested in the huge Hellenic project for the development of Athens’ former international airport. The construction project is expected to cost $5.5 billion.
During the press conference, Mitropoulos said other Israeli groups have asked for details about tenders for the privatization of the Athens and Thessaloniki water and sewage companies and the privatization of Hellenic Defense Systems. These tenders are set to be launched during the current quarter.
Mitropoulos said that despite the mass protests against the austerity measures, opinion polls show that more than 80% of Greek citizens support privatization. He said the program will add tens of thousands of jobs and result in an annual 1% increase in the country's Gross National Product, until 2015.
Reuters contributed to the report
This report was originally published in Hebrew by Calcalist