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02 October, 1998
Saresco of France with listed Papaellinas and Sarandis, both of Greece, yesterday formally acquired a 67 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA, following a privatization tender called by the government.
Saresco, which also bid in an abortive tender for the company earlier this year, offered 3,250 drachmas per share in Wednesday's tender through the bourse against a bid floor of 3,100 drachmas.
The firm today complied with a request by the authorities to produce the original of a bank letter of guarantee after submitting a photocopy in this tender, finalizing the acquisition.
Kappe of the Netherlands also bid in the tender but was eliminated for a breach of the rules. It offered 3,300 drachmas per share but failed to provide a bank letter of guarantee.
Already listed on the Athens Stock Exchange was around 20 percent of Hellenic Duty Free Shops.
Expressing his satisfaction at what he called a positive development, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou stressed that the Hellenic Duty Free Shops was the third state-owned corporation to be privatized after OTE and Hellenic Petroleum, let alone the three banks, Macedonia-Thrace, Creta and Central Greece.
The minister grabbed the opportunity to reassure that the government was firmly pushing along with its structural changes program.
The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party said the government appeared to have adopted a principle of privatizing most firms far below their stock market value.
"This shows that the government is caught in an impasse," George Alogoskoufis, ND's economic affairs chief, said in a statement following the privatization of Hellenic Duty Free Shops.
Mr. Alogoskoufis accused the government of an amateurish approach to sale tenders, exemplified by yesterday's acquisition of Hellenic Duty Free Shops by a French-led consortium.
The company was sold before a deal was made with the operators of a new airport being built for Athens that will set the percentage of turnover the company will have to hand over as part of a leasing arrangement, Mr. Alogoskoufis said.
Source: Athens News Agency