Greece refloats privatisation of rail operator

Greece refloats privatisation of rail operator

Athens (AFP) - Greece on Wednesday said it has agreed a new tender process for rail operator Trainose, frozen in 2014 for a lack of firm bids from three suitors, including French state rail operator SNCF.

The body overseeing the Greek privatisation fund, Taiped, said the process would resume from February 1 with bids to be submitted before an April 26 deadline for binding offers after the board of Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) decided to relaunch the international tender.

The privatisation is part of Greek plans to right its sagging finances under the terms of its EU bailouts. Initial interest came from SNCF, Russia's RZD and US-Romanian Watco-Group Feroviar.

Taiped said new suitors had been urged to present themselves by January 16 following Athens' most recent bailout agreement last July after which a number of interested parties had come forward, including one from the United States.

A further tender is progressing for rolling stock operating company Rosco with French giant Alstom among those reportedly sniffing around.

Trainose and Rosco were split off in 2012 from former parent company, publicly owned operator OSE.

Greece last week took a big step forward on privatisation as it looks to fulfil bailout stipulations, by agreeing to cede a 67-percent stake in the Port of Piraeus to China's COSCO.

An ambitious privatisation programme as laid down by the EU and International Monetary Fund should see Greece raise 50 billion euros (54.4 billion dollars).

Following protracted talks, Athens managed to win agreement to use half of that sum as a "guarantee" towards recapitalisation of its banks, with a quarter to pare down public debt and the remaining quarter going towards investments.

Last month, Greece ceded control of operations at 14 regional airports to Germany's Fraport for 1.2 million euros, that being the first large privatisation under the aegis of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' leftist government.

Greece hopes to raise around 3.5 billion euros this year from sales of state assets, including the country?s two largest ports.