ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has asked three firms to submit binding bids by September for a majority stake in the country’s biggest port, Piraeus, a senior privatisation official told Reuters on Thursday, unblocking a major asset sale.
Greece had shorlisted China’s Cosco Group [COSCO.UL] and four other groups for a 67 percent stake in Piraeus Port last year but the sale was halted after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist government came to power this year.
Pressing ahead on the sale is expected to be one of the major concessions offered by Tsipras to EU and IMF lenders during ongoing talks to secure aid.
Athens late on Wednesday wrote to investors with an amended invitation to bid for 51 percent rather than the previous 67 percent stake, the official said.
Only three of the five initial bidders - Cosco, Dutch container terminal operator APM Terminals, and Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services - are still interested in the port, the official said.
“It will be for 51 percent with an option to reach 67 percent in five years if they invest 300 million euros (£216.9 million),” he said. “We want to name the winner at the end of September or early October.”
The new leftist-led government is trying to renegotiate a 240-billion-euro bailout and has said it will review asset sales, but wants the state to remain involved in any privatisations.
Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, editing by Deepa Babington/Jeremy Gaunt