ICTSI to bid for Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki container terminal. Source: Thessaloniki Port Authority

Philippines-based terminal operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) confirmed yesterday its intention to bid for a majority stake in Greece’s Thessaloniki port, writes today BusinessWorld Online.

“I can confirm we are participating in the process,” Manila business newspaper quotes Christian R. Gonzalez, ICTSI Senior Vice-President and Regional Head of Asia Pacific.

ICTSI budgeted a USD 240-mln capital expenditure this year mainly to fund its expansion program, adds BusinessWorld Online.

Apparently, the sale of a 67% stake in Greece’s second-largest port moves forward, after almost 3 years of delays and political resistance. The binding bids for a 40-year operating concession are to be submitted today, March 24, by 19.00 GMT to the London office of financial adviser Morgan Stanley. Greece’s privatization agency will open the offers by April 7 at the latest.

According to Thessaloniki port chairman Konstantinos Mellios, four companies are expected to participate in the bidding. Apart from ICTSI, these include Dubai-based DP World, Japan’s Mitsui & Co. and a consortium of German private equity Deutsche Invest Equity Partners and Russian-Greek investor Ivan Savvidi teaming up with CMA CGM’s Terminal Link.

Several companies that expressed interest in 2014 when the privatization process was launched, have walked away, including APM Terminals and Turkey’s Yilport Holdings. Besides, Russian Railways also was among the interested investors, as we wrote earlier, but obviously considered the investment unworthy.

The Thessaloniki privatization has been postponed several times, partly because the potential bidders were averted by the requirement of investing EUR 180 mln over 7 years and an “unrealistic” increase in container traffic, comments Journal of Commerce. Finally, the volume target is said to have been reduced to around 360,000 TEU, which is close to 344,316 TEU handled in 2016. However, this is significantly lower than the port’s throughput of 447,211 TEU in 2007, before the global financial crisis and Greece’s economic recession. Thessaloniki Port has a market value of USD 211 mln.

Thessaloniki port workers walked off the job for three hours on Wednesday to protest against the privatisation but according to the port’s administration, this did not affect operations. Greece’s dockworkers union was expected to sign a new two-year labor contract with the port’s management yesterday.

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