Greece will put off by a few weeks the sale of a majority stake in its largest port, Piraeus , after a Sept. 20 snap election held up work at ministries, government officials said on Tuesday.
Setting a date to submit binding bids for Piraeus port is one of the actions that Athens needs to complete to conclude its first bailout review and qualify for more funds from its 86 billion euro bailout.
China’s Cosco Group, Dutch container terminal operator APM Terminals and Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services have until Oct. 30 to submit binding bids for a 51 percent stake in the port operator OLP.
But the early election has held up work and the deadline may be pushed back, government officials said.
“We will fall behind by about 20 days because the concession agreement that the shipping and finance ministries have to sign is causing a short delay,” a government official close to the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The shipping ministry still needs to review the draft agreement before it is presented to investors, another official said, adding that the re-elected minister had received the relevant material only “very recently”.
Cosco currently manages two cargo piers at the Piraeus Port under a 2009 concession agreement. Athens operates one pier at the port, which is currently 74 percent state owned.
Under the deal, would-be buyers will also have the option to acquire an additional 16 percent stake in OLP over five years after completing mandatory investments.
Divisions among local authorities over the terms of the concession agreement could also hold up the process. Port workers, who fear job cuts, have threatened to block the sale with protests and strikes and have taken legal action against the project.
Dock workers staged repeated strikes against the possible sale of the country’s two largest ports in 2008-2009.[reuters]