New, large-scale privatization fund to include Greece's major utilities, numerous properties

Friday, 20 May 2016 10:37
UPD:10:38
EUROKINISSI/ΠΑΝΑΓΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ

By S. Zisimos

A new privatization fund unveiled by the leftist Greek government on Thursday will include various urban mass transit companies, the Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA), national rail subsidiaries, the light rail operator and even the Greek post offices (EL.TA) in its portfolio.

The new “super fund”, with the Greek-language abbreviation of “EDIS”, was one of the many addendums added to a massive 7,200-page omnibus draft bill submitted to Parliament for approval.

The voluminous bill is the third tranche of a 5.4-billion-euro package of measures aimed at meeting memorandum-mandated fiscal targets through 2018 and ensuring a continuing flow of bailout loans by Greece’s institutional creditors.  

Other state-owned and operated entities headed for the new fund are the Athens and Thessaloniki water and sewerage utilities – the former already listed on the Athens Stock Exchange – an ammunitions and weapons manufacturer, the Athens metro operator, the listed Public Power Corp (PPC), the pre-eminent power utility, and a very large number of properties around Greece.

The initiative, which eyes a significant rollback of the state’s involvement in the country in favor of the private sector if privatizations actually proceed, caused a flurry of negative reactions on Thursday by deputies backing the coalition government, i.e. from the leftist SYRIZA party (which fields a plurality of MPs in Parliament) and the small rightist-populist AN.EL party, SYRIZA’s coalition partner.

The new super fund will also assume control of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, its privatization predecessor (TAIPED) and a state-run real estate holding company (ETAD), retaining them as subsidiaries. The new entity will be based in Athens, with a charter envisioning its existence for 99 years and with an initial share capital of 40 million euros.

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