ATHENS Greece will launch a tender for the long-term lease of a major toll road by the end of September, a senior privatisation agency (HRADF) official said on Thursday, to unlock the country's next tranche of bailout loans.
Along with other reforms, Greece needs to sell rights to the 670 km Egnatia toll road for 35 years to pass a first progress review by the country's EU and IMF lenders and receive another 2.8 billion euros (2.38 billion pounds) of a bailout that could ultimately total 86 billion euros.
"The decision was taken today by (HRADF's) board. The launch of the tender and the timetable will be announced by Sept. 30," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Egnatia is a major trade route in the Balkans, linking Igoumenitsa port in eastern Greece to the Greek-Turkish border in the west.
The privatisation agency official gave no indication of how much Athens hopes to raise from the toll road tender. Independent valuers will provide an estimate before binding bids are assessed.
As part of the EU/IMF review conditions, Greece has also promised to conclude energy reforms and secure parliamentary approval for the long-term lease of a major seaside property, Hellenikon. Athens and its lenders also need to reach agreement on who will oversee a new privatisation fund.
The government submitted a draft bill on the lease of Hellenikon to parliament late on Thursday.
In 2014 Greece clinched a 915-million-euro ($1.03 billion) deal for Hellenikon, the site of the old, disused Athens airport, which sits on prime beachfront real estate.
A consortium led by Lamda Development (LMDr.AT), a Greek developer, would own part of the Hellenikon property and get a 99-year lease to develop all of it.
EU and IMF mission chiefs arrived in Athens this week to assess the country's progress on the pending reforms.
Privatisations have been a key part of Greece's international bailouts since 2010 but have reaped poor returns because of political resistance and bureaucratic snags.
Greece has promised to set up an umbrella privatisation agency to speed state asset divestments and help to raise 5.8 billion euros by 2018.
($1 = 0.8891 euros)
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and George Georgiopoulos,; Editing by David Goodman)