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Privatization program takes off on strong interest for Athens airport

Greece's sale of a 30 percent stake in the Athens International Airport drew stronger than expected investor interest, in what could earn the country more than 1.5 billion euros in revenues, while also giving a major push to its stalled privatizations program. Expected dividends of 1.1 billion euros connected to the 30 percent stake between 2026 to 2046 drew ten bids from some of the world's largest investors in infrastructure and airport management companies.

Greece's sale of a 30 percent stake in the Athens International Airport drew stronger than expected investor interest, in what could earn the country more than 1.5 billion euros in revenues, while also giving a major push to its stalled privatizations program.

Expected dividends of 1.1 billion euros connected to the 30 percent stake between 2026 to 2046 drew ten bids from some of the world's largest investors in infrastructure and airport management companies.

Canada's AviAlliance, which controls a 40 percent holding in the airport, is among the bidders and is up against tough competition as the dividend yield offered on the Greek airport is amongst the highest in the sector Europe-wide. Other bidders include infrastructure management players such as US GIP and Australia's Macquarie and airport managers such as French companies ADP and Vinci Airport.

In the next few days, Greece's privatization agency HRADF will announce the procedure on when binding bids will be submitted after examining the initial offers submitted. It is not clear whether the strong interest will result in HRADF auctioning off the stake between the top three or four bidders, or will follow another procedure. The auctioning off procedure was adopted in the privatization of the Alimos marina, which also drew strong interest.

The positive result on the airport privatization is prompting the government to quickly push ahead other asset sales. An amendment allowing for the sale of gas company DEPA, by breaking it up into three companies, is expected to be submitted to parliament this week. Other significant privatizations ahead include the sale of a 35 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and the management of the country's ten ports. There are, however, also assets that are still on the unwanted pile, such as nickel producer Larko, which is costing the Greek taxpayer millions of euros every month, and some of the regional ports which cannot be developed immediately.

The ports of Alexandroupolis and Kavala are slated next for sale in what will probably be a single tender, while the ports of Rhodes, Mykonos, and Itea are also high up on the government's priority list. But the privatization of ELPE is being pushed back due to weak international market conditions, despite talk that it could be soon completed. Greece is hoping to get a better price per share on the deal on the Athens stock exchange.

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