ATHENS Greece will put off by a month the sale of majority stake in its biggest ports, Piraeus (OLPr.AT) and Thessaloniki (OLTr.AT), the head of the country's privatisation agency said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday.
Setting a date to submit binding bids for Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports is one of the actions that Athens needs to complete to conclude its first bailout review and unlock more funds for its 86 billion euro (63 billion pound) bailout.
"The submission (of bids) for OLP (Piraeus Port operator) will take place on Nov. 30 or early December at the latest," the head of privatisation agency (HRADF) Stergios Pitsiorlas told the Kathimerini newspaper.
China's Cosco Group COSCO.UL, Danish container terminal operator APM Terminals (MAERSKb.CO) and Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services (ICT.PS) have until Oct. 30 to submit binding bids for a 51 percent stake in OLP.
But Greek government officials told Reuters this month that the early Sept. 20 election had held up work and the deadline would be pushed back by about 20 days.
Pitsiorlas also said that Greece will push back the deadline to receive binding bids for the Thessaloniki port to the end of March from early February.
Eight firms, including APM Terminals and Russia's state railway company, have been shortlisted for the Thessaloniki port.
Privatisations have been a key part of Athens' efforts to develop its state assets and raise money to cut Greece's mountainous debt. But the programme has raised only 3.5 billion euros since 2011 versus an original target of 50 billion euros in the 2011-2015 period.
Greece is targeting 1.4 billion euros from privatisations this year and 3.7 billion for 2016. Pitsiorlas has said that the target will be missed this year due to delays on a Greek airport deal with Germany's Fraport (FRAG.DE), while the 2016 target is realistic.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)