* Former utility chief Athanasopoulos appointed privatisation agency chairman
* Former investment banker Emiris named CEO
* Privatisation programme badly lagging targets
ATHENS, July 25 (Reuters) - Greece appointed a former banker to run its privatisation agency on Wednesday, in a bid to breathe life into the stumbling programme of asset sales that are a key condition of the international bailouts keeping the country afloat.
The government said it named Yannis Emiris, investment banking chief at local lender Alpha Bank as chief executive to replace Costas Mitropoulos, who stepped down last week. Mitropoulos left after accusing the new conservative-led government of blocking his effort to sell off assets.
Takis Athanasopoulos, a former chief executive at state-controlled power producer PPC who had fallen out with the company’s powerful labour union, was named as chairman.
In a public resignation letter, Mitropoulos estimated that Athens would not raise more than 300 million euros from privatisations this year, far short of a target of more than 3 billion euros.
But the government dismissed his claims, blaming Mitropoulos for the delay and saying that he resigned before being fired.
Reviving the long-delayed privatisation drive is a key part of Greece’s efforts to turn around the recession-hit economy and repay its debt. But the government has admitted delays stemming from repeat elections held earlier this year.
Greece’s privatisation programme aims to raise 19 billion euros by the end of 2015. It has so far collected just 1.56 billion euros in cash since the country obtained its first international bailout, in 2010.
More than 90 percent of the privatisation programme, which aims to raise more than 19 billion euros by the end of 2015, will come from the lease and concessions of state land and infrastructure, the government has said.