Greece tells port bidders to sweeten offers

The three bidders for the Thessaloniki Port Authority have been told to up the size of their offers in another delay to Greece’s privatisation programme.

The three groups vying for a 67 percent ownership of Greece’s Thessaloniki Port Authority have had their bids knocked back by the country’s privatisation agency.

The Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services and the DP World-owned P&O Steam Navigation Company each submitted separate bids for Greece’s largest transit-trade port nearly two weeks ago. A third bid came from a consortium comprising Deutsche Invest Equity Partners, Belterra Investments and Terminal Link.

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, which is managing Greece’s vast privatisation programme, said it would evaluate the port bids immediately, with the sale process having first begun in April 2014. However, the fund on Friday released a statement saying it had “requested the submission of improved financial offers” after initial bids failed to produce what the agency was hoping for.

A spokeswoman for HRADF declined to state how much the fund was hoping to procure for Thessaloniki port. In addition to the initial investment, successful bidders will be expected to invest at least €180 million in the port during the first seven years of the concession.

The rejection of the initial bids represents the latest delay in Greece’s enforced privatisation programme, part of its bail-out deal with the EU and the IMF. Frankfurt-based Fraport last month sealed financing for the €1.2 billion acquisition of 14 Greek airports. It was initially awarded the contract in November 2014, but elections and referendums held up the deal. Similar complications hit the Port of Piraeus, while two false starts to privatise Trainose, the country’s sole rail operator, eventually led to it attracting just one bidder last year.