01 March, 2006
An inner cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, on Tuesday discussed developments in a privatization programme implemented by the government.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the meeting discussed future plans in privatizations -one of the most significant axis of government strategy.
The privatization programme has been largely successful so far, Alogoskoufis said, with privatization proceeds reaching 3.0 billion euros since 2004. The government aims for proceeds of 1.6 billion euros this year with emphasis to be given in the banking sector. The Greek minister said a restructuring effort in the banking sector last year would help the government's plans and stressed that procedures would be open and transparent to ensure the maximum benefit for the society and for the state.
Commenting on a series of strike mobilizations by workers, Alogoskoufis said it was workers' right to strike but stressed that the government was obliged to implement a social and economic policy aimed to solve past problems and creating a better future for the country.
Gov't seeks to raise 1.6 bln euros from privatizations this year
The Greek state's proceeds from privatizations totaled 2.855 billion euros in the period 2004-05, surpassing a budget target for 2005 -- 2.1 billion euros, up from a target of 1.6 billion euros.
The government is currently implementing a wide-ranging privatization programme, aimed to raise 1.65 billion euros, according to a recommendation by the Inter-ministerial Privatization Commission, which includes Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis.
The Commission's recommendation calls for examining the possibility of selling up to a 9.26-percent equity stake in Emporiki Bank (owned by the state) and selling stakes in the same bank owned by government agencies (totaling 12.5 pct). The Greek state is currently seeking a legal and financial consultant to the sale.
The Greek state is also ready to sell another stake in ATEbank through a secondary offering to institutional investors, with the aim of boosting the share's liquidity. The exact number of shares to be offered and the time of the offering will be decided by the Inter-ministerial Privatization Commission.
Meanwhile, the Commission agreed to float the Post Savings Bank on the Athens Stock Exchange through a combined offering of shares owned by the Greek state to domestic and foreign investors. The exact number of shares to be offered will be decided in a later date. A preparation procedure for listing in ASE is currently in full swing and it is expected to be completed in the first half of the year. The Commission also announced to examine the possibility and preconditions for an equity partnership between Post Savings Bank and Hellenic Post. A financial consultant is expected to present its recommendation to the commission with the aim to complete the transaction in March 2006.
The Commission decided to examine the possibility of alternative use of facilities and business units owned by the Enterprise of Touristic Development, such as a marina in the Faliro district of southern coastal Athens, a casino on the Ionian island of Corfu, a golf course on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes and the Xenia hotels in Vytina, Thassos, Skiathos and Tsagarada.
The Commission also approved the beginning of procedures for the flotation of DEPA -- Greece's natural gas grid operator -- on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Source: Athens News Agency