By F. Zois
The long-awaited transfer of shares to Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane in order to finalize the privatization of Greece's state-run rail operator, Trainose, comes on Thursday.
The development comes some four years after the privatization process was begun, with an initial sale price of roughly 300 million euros - a value set by the previous government - finally landing at a successful tender offer of 45 million euros by the Italian rail operator.
A "photo-op"-laden signing event on Thursday will be attended by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni on the Ionian island of Corfu. The event will also serve as a venue for convening a Greece-Italy cooperation council.
As expected, unions representing rail workers in the country called a nationwide strike for Thursday in order to protest the privatization.
A relevant contract to sell-off 100 percent of Trainose's shares to Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA was finalized in January under the stewardship of Greece's privatization agency, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF).
In a later press release, HRADF noted that "the signing of the agreement ... completes today a bidding process that began four years ago and opens up new page for Trainose, as the privatization of the company has resulted in the closure of the European Commission’s State Aid dossier on Trainose’s debt to OSE, amounting at €692 million.
"Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane S.p.A. is the third largest railway company in Europe and assumes the responsibility to strengthen and develop Trainose with its expertise and experience, creating a major rail service provider."