Greece has received three binding bids for a majority stake in its second-largest port in Thessaloniki, the state privatizations agency said on Saturday, as the country tries to privatize parts of its infrastructure to meet bailout terms.
The offers came from Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services (ICTS); Dubai-based Peninsular and Oriental Stream Navigation Company (DP World); and a consortium comprising German private-equity firm Deutsche Invest Equity Partners, Terminal Link (a subsidiary of CMA CGM) and Russian-Greek investor Ivan Savvidis’s group.
Greece had given investors until March 24 to submit binding bids for a 67% stake in the port. The submissions were tabled at Morgan Stanley in London on Friday. Revenues from the sale and other privatizations are a key part of the country’s ongoing EUR86 billion ($92.77 billion) bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Apart from the price it has to pay for the majority stake, the preferred bidder will have to implement investments of at least EUR180 million within seven years.
The sale of Thessaloniki Port began in July 2014 but has been delayed several times due to political resistance and waves of strikes by port workers.
Conflicting interests in the Greek government have threatened to derail attempts to sell state assets to pay down debt and bring in foreign investment, a key element of Greece’s bailout plan. Dockworkers oppose the sale saying it reduces the value of the port.
Last summer, Greece completed the sale of a 67% stake in the port of Piraeus, the country’s largest, to Chinese shipping company China Cosco Holding Co. for EUR368.5 million.
Without the billions penciled in from asset sales, Greece would need to tap more loans and eventually would need further debt relief. But the loans are also vital for overcoming investors’ yearslong aversion to putting money into Greece and bringing down a 23% unemployment rate.
The country must raise some EUR6 billion through the sale of state-controlled assets by 2018, according to the terms of its third bailout agreement with creditors reached in 2015.