The previously abandoned plan of the SYRIZA - ANEL government for the entry of a strategic investor into Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) has been resurrected by Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis in the last few days. In fact, according to sources, there have been several appointments of the minister with candidates to participate in the group in a bid to help solve HAI’s problems.
To help draw investors, the government removed the managing director that it had previously appointed and is looking to replace him with a one that is "commonly accepted."
The plan for the entry of a strategic investor had reached an advanced stage under the previous government. However, on the way there was a conflict between the two investors that would participate in the rescue consortium and the idea was dropped. After the recent cabinet reshuffle, Georgiadis found himself with fewer responsibilities as some were transferred to Deputy Minister Nikos Papathanasis. However, Georgiadis retained the task of privatizing HAI, despite the fact that the deputy minister also participates in relevant meetings.
At the prime minister’s office they know that HAI is facing serious problems and is unable to comply with agreements made with the Greek Air Force on aircraft maintenance. They also know that the company is constantly sinking, as it continues to show significant operating losses, despite recent cuts in staff pay levels.
Indicative, however, of the many administrative layers within the government is the fact that the privatization of HAI ended up being the responsibility of Georgiadis, while the privatization of the other important defense industries and the Scaramanga Shipyards is under the supervision of Finance Minister Christos Staikouras. The tender for the Scaramanga Shipyards is approaching, amid speculation concerning potential investors. At the HAI, it seems that more time is needed to help crystallize investor interest and also form the shape of those that will salvage the company.
It should be noted that there is a strong American interest in HAI as Lockheed Martin is deeply concerned about the problems already posed by HAI’s weakness in promoting the F-16 upgrade program, as stated by Greek-American vice president of the American defense industry, Denny Plessa, to government officials on a recent visit to Athens, after which the search for a strategic investor began to accelerate. The escalation of tensions with Turkey has been crucial in speeding up the process, which led the prime minister to recent announcements concerning the restructuring of the defense industry.