Turkish investors eye ports on other side of the Aegean Sea
Ships wait at the Piraeus port in this file photo. Privatization of ports and marinas, along with the railway system and energy grids, constitutes a large part of the Aegean country’s austerity measures. Hürriyet photoTurkish investors are interested in marina and port privatizations in neighboring Greece, according to a Greek official, as a Turkish business group has called on local companies to invest in the neighboring country.
“The process has not begun yet,” said Greek Privatization Boards’ coordinator Panos Protohsaltis during an interview with Anatolia news agency, referring to a recent parliamentary decision that sees large privatizations as part of further austerity measures. “We will decide on the process within a few weeks. The government has made a decision that gives a green light [to sell-offs]. This is an important step.”
Turkish companies are interested in Greek ports, he said without elaborating. “There were some companies interested in Greek ports and marinas during my latest visit to Turkey.” “It is the right time for Turkish companies to invest in Greece,” said Selim Egeli, head of the Turkish-Greek Business Council within the body of Turkey’s Ministry of Development and the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK).
International companies other than Turkish firms will also show an interest in Greek port and marina privatizations, Egeli told Anatolia. “On the short list for the Greek natural gas distribution grid privatization there were three, one Russian and one French company, along with a British-Russian consortium. I can imagine that these ports are also very precious. Thus, I think many leading international companies in the field will be in these tenders.”
In May, Hellenic Duty Free, a joint venture between Turkey’s Setur Marinas and Greece-based Follie Group, won 40-year operation rights on Lesbos Island, which is a 1.5-hour boat trip away from Turkey’s tourism destination of Ayvalık on the Aegean coast. Another Turkish company has already said it is in the game.
Global Yatırım Holding is closely interest in port privatizations in Greece. The company will enter tenders for all Greek ports excluding the ones in Athens and Thessalonica, according to board member Adnan Nas. The firm may fund buyouts using its own resources, Nas said, adding that this stood at 674.9 million Turkish Liras as of the end of last year.
The number of marinas and ports to be privatized in Greece is 23, Nas said. The company may consider a Greek partner in entering the tenders, he added. “We are now watching the process.”
No fear of reaction
Commenting on the Communist Party of Greece’s (KKE) reaction against port and marina privatizations, Nas said this would ease. “Today they are angrier at Europeans than us. However, it would still be correct to take a symbolic local partner on our side.”
Greek Prime Minister Andonis Samaras said in July, while detailing the government’s program at Parliament, that one of their goals was making the Aegean Sea a special economic zone and sell-offs of railways and electricity distribution grid were a priority.