Privatisation of Greek ports

Thessaloniki container terminal. Source: Thessaloniki Port Authority

Greece set March, 24th as a deadline for potential investors to submit binding bids for a sale of 67% in its second biggest port, Thessaloniki, reports Reuters quoting its sources close to the matter. It is also noted that previous deadlines were several times postponed due to disputes over the amount of mandatory investment and other issues. According to the tender documentation, the buyer will have to invest EUR 180 mln by 2021 to develop the port.

This sale is a part of the country’s bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the third since 2010. Reuters highlights that the programme has fallen behind schedule due to political resistance and red tape, and has raised only EUR 4 bln (USD 4.3 bln) so far versus an original target of EUR 50 bln.

Thessaloniki is being privatized under the same terms as the largest Greek port of Piraeus. In August, 2016 COSCO finalized the deal to acquire 67% in the port for EUR 368.5 mln (USD 402.3 mln). The company has been already operating at the two piers since 2009 through its 100% subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal S.A.

Among the interested investors for Thessaloniki the sources name APM Terminals, ICTSI, DP World and Japan’s Mitsui & Co.

Besides, Russia also expressed interest in this purchase. Last year, when Greece resumed the 100% privatization of TrainOSE, the national rail operator, Russian Railways submitted a bid and announced its plans to acquire also the port of Thessaloniki to create a transport network. Later, Russian Railways refused to buy TrainOSE but confirmed its interest in the port. Today Alexander Misharin, First Vice-President of Russian Railways, has made an announcement that the company intends to set up a joint venture in Greece and start rail operations already in the first half of 2017. On the Thessaloniki privatization, he said: “We are calculating. If it’s worth it, we’ll go, if not – not”. No more comments were given on the issue.

Located on the inner part of the Bay of Thermaicos, in the northern part of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Thessaloniki has 6 piers, with total berth length of 6,200m and depth of 12m. According to the Port Authority, in 2016 the port handled 14.1 mln tons (-7.54% to 2015) including liquid, dry bulk, general cargo and containers. Containerised volumes amounted to 344,277 TEU (-2.03% to 2015). The port also has a passenger terminal, which traffic increased dramatically, from 26,356 in 2015 to 69,508 passengers last year. The port’s market value is currently estimated at USD 200.5 mln (EUR 186 mln).

Julia Louppova:
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