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UPDATE 1-Bid deadline for Greece's Piraeus Port pushed back to Dec. 3
October 23, 2015 / 2:50 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Bid deadline for Greece's Piraeus Port pushed back to Dec. 3

(Adds more details on privatisations)

By Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Greece has pushed back the date to submit binding bids for a majority stake in its biggest port, Piraeus (OLP), to Dec. 3, the head of its privatisation agency said on Friday.

Privatisations have been a key condition of Greece’s international bailouts, but the recession-hit country has raised only 3.5 billion euros ($3.9 billion) since 2011, far below an initial target of 50 billion euros for 2011-2015.

Athens is also set to miss this year’s target of 1.4 billion euros in privatisation revenues and hopes to raise 3.7 billion euros from state asset sales in 2016.

Setting a date for binding bids for Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports is one of the actions Greece needs to take to unlock more bailout funds. EU/IMF inspectors visited Athens this week to assess the government’s fiscal and reform progress.

China’s Cosco Group, Danish container terminal operator APM Terminals and Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services were expected to submit bids for a 51 percent stake in OLP by Oct. 30.

But an early Sept. 20 election held up work and the deadline has been pushed back.

“We had some delays with the concession agreements so we moved the date to Dec. 3,” Stergios Pitsiorlas, the head of Greece’s privatisation agency, told Reuters. “Investors have been notified.”

After seven months of tense negotiations in Brussels, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government reactivated the country’s privatisation plan as part of its third 86-billion euro bailout.

The sale of Greek ports, airports and railways are among the government’s priorities, officials have said, but its plans are likely to be faced with resistance from labour unions. Port workers walked off the job on Thursday to protest against the OLP sale.

The submission of binding bids for Greek railways (TRAINOSE) and its rolling stock operator (ROSCO) will also be postponed to mid-January from December, Pitsiorlas said.

Three investors - Russian Railways, Siemens and Alstom - were shortlisted for ROSCO in 2013. Pitsiorlas said Siemens and Alstom were still interested.

Under its bailout, Athens had agreed to start the privatisation of its power grid operator ADMIE this month or find alternative ways to open up its electricity market. Greece says it wants ADMIE’s operations and its fixed assets transferred to the state instead of being privatised.

A government official told Reuters that the lenders had initially agreed on freezing the sale but the two sides were still discussing the alternative plan.

$1 = 0.9069 euros Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter

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