Posted 12/18/10 : Although the privatisation sale of the Greek state gambling monopoly OPAP has been on the cards for some time, the parlous state of the Greek economy may provide more momentum to get the deal done and the cash into state coffers.
As the week ended, this was confirmed by the government, which announced a three-year privatisation plan to raise Euros 7 billion (around $9.3 billion), through the sale and exploitation of state companies and other assets including OPAP.
The finance ministry said on Thursday that the Socialist government intended to draw "at least one billion euro" in 2011 from the partial sale, joint management or outright privatisation of hundreds of properties.
"The aim of the state asset management and privatisation programme, which is in line with Economic and Financial Policy Programme of Greece, is the inflow of revenue amounting to 7 billion euro within the 2011-2013 period, of which at least one billion euro in 2011," a finance ministry spokesman told the Agence France Presse news agency.
He went on to reveal that financial and legal advisors will be immediately employed to handle the extension of concession rights for the operation of Athens International Airport, find a strategic investor for state defence contractor EAS and exploit state holdings in gas operators DEPA and DESFA. Greece will also manage its holdings in profitable state betting operator OPAP and invite private investment in two state lotteries and state racetrack operator ODIE, the spokesman added.
A long list of other state interests and assets will also be reviewed and offered in a variety of agreements as the country attempts to cut its losses from a host of ailing state enterprises which last year had combined deficits of over Euros 1.7 billion.
Following its close brush with bankruptcy earlier this year, necessitating bailouts from the EU and the IMF, the debt-laden Greek government has implemented a tough austerity strategy which has triggered public unrest from unhappy citizens.