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Greece steps up privatization program


15:58, January 17, 2013

ATHENS, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Greece gave a new boost to its stagnant privatization program on Wednesday with the launch of an international public tender for the development of two major projects.

The tender involves the Astir Palace luxury resort complex on the so-called Attica's Riviera, and the second phase for development of the former "Hellenikon" international airport at the southern coastline of Athens.

Greece's National Bank, the largest shareholder in Astir Palace Vouliagmeni S.A., and a smaller shareholder -- the state privatization fund Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), invited potential investors to submit first expressions of interest for the acquisition of a majority participation in the entity's share capital.

The deadline for the first phase of the tender concerning the 307,000 square-meter hotel complex and land plot situated 25 km from the Athens International Airport expires on Feb. 28, 2013.

In the meantime, HRADF proceeds to the second phase of the tender for the development of "Hellenikon" with three bidders - the local Lamda Development S.A., the Israeli Elbit Cochin Island Ltd. and British London & Regional Properties.

The eligible investors are now called to submit their binding offers for the acquisition of 100 percent of shares of Hellenikon S.A. and final business plans for the site's development in July 2013.

Greek state officials expect that this project will boost Greek GDP by some 0.3 percent annually and create more than 10,000 job positions in the next decade in a debt-laden country hit hard by recession and record high unemployment rates over the past three years.

Greek government aims to accelerate at least 11 sell-off projects within the second quarter of 2013. The country seeks to raise about 50 billion euros (67 billion U.S. dollars) from the program by 2020 under terms of bailout deals with international lenders who keep the country afloat since 2010.

So far, Athens has raised just 2 billion euros, as the program lagged due to strong reactions by labor unions and limbo due to last year's two general elections. (1 euro = 1.33 U.S. dollars)

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