TAIPED Director Reveals Plans for Privatization of Athens Airport, Egnatia and Ports

Dimitris Politis reveals details of the Hellenic Investment Fund portfolio program in his first interview with Kathimerini since taking over as CEO.

Negotiations with the remaining shareholders on the listing of Athens International Airport on the stock exchange are ongoing, and the Egnatia concession is expected to be completed early next year. Shortly thereafter, in mid-2023, it is planned to submit financial bids for participation in the tender for the Attiki Odos project.

– It has been 14 months since you took office as CEO of the Hellenic Investment Fund. What have you achieved during this time?

This period was especially productive for the Hellenic Real Estate Fund. A deal was recently closed to sell 100% of DEPA Infrastructure to Italgas at a very high price of close to 800 million euros, with an estimated investment of 1 billion euros. In addition, tender procedures were completed for the concession of Egnatia, the sale of the land of the former US base in Gournes Heraklion, the port “Philip B” in Kavala, real estate in Nea Irakleitsa in Kavala and Tavros, as well as Xenia and thermal springs in Loutra Kythnos. In addition to collecting tolls, their operation will have multiplier benefits and serve as a springboard for regional development. In Kythnos, for example, the winning Israeli businessman will invest 25 million euros.

– How is the transformation of the Greek Investment Fund, which you spoke about, proceeding?

We are adapting our strategy, which is based on two main pillars: speeding up the program and optimizing its use, not only considering the price. We are running several tenders, especially those related to real estate, in one stage instead of two, and have increased the number of board meetings. In total, 11 tenders are currently being held, which is the first such case. We plan each project individually based on the overall direct and indirect benefits for communities. The ultimate goal is to turn the Hellenic Investment Fund into a body for the efficient use of public assets, turning its portfolio into a driver of sustainable development. Our task is not just to complete the tender by announcing the preferred investor. In addition, the Hellenic Foundation provides assistance to investors and the state through its contract monitoring department throughout the life of projects and concessions, and acts as a planning authority for regional ports, PPA and POTH, and in the future for other ports.

Why was the financial closure of Egnatia delayed?

Indeed, there was a slight delay due to the complexity of the contractual texts regarding the financing, maintenance and construction of the project extensions. We expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2023.

When will the Attiki Odos concession move to the next stage?

In the coming days, we will send a draft of a new concession agreement to eight participants in the competition, while we are waiting for the decision of the Ministry of Infrastructure on the pricing policy for collecting tolls. We have proposed a pricing model that will vary depending on the time of use of the motorway and will help to manage traffic congestion more effectively. We expect financial applications to be completed by the end of the first half of 2023.

– What will you finally do with the Athens airport?

Our intention to sell 30% of the shares of Athens International Airport (AIA) through the stock exchange is the implementation of a new philosophy for the development of our assets. We want to enable a large number of domestic and international investors to take part in its success story, which is recovering spectacularly after two health crises. In doing so, we aim to achieve the dual goal of attracting investors by strengthening the capital market and creating an additional source of capital to fund future investments in the airport. Discussions of technical details with other shareholders of the company are ongoing, and over the past few days we have also selected our consultants.

– What is your plan for the ports?

After the completion of the tender for the port of Philippos II in Kavala, the procedures for the sale of a controlling stake in the ports of Igoumenitsa and Alexandroupoli are at the final stage. In the first quarter of 2023, financial proposals for the Port of Heraklion will be requested. At the same time, we plan to start procedures for the port of Volos in October and are working intensively to prepare a strategic plan for the remaining ports.

– How is the program with tourist facilities going?

The tender for the construction of Loutropolis at Kamena Vourla is underway and interest is high. In the near future, three more tenders will be announced for objects with thermal springs in Thermopylae, Konyavytis and Ipati. By the end of the year, we intend to announce a tender for the purchase of a property in Agia Triada in Thessaloniki, and in early 2023 we will begin developing a beach and a campsite in Poseidi, Chalkidiki, and a property in the Ververonda area of ​​Porto Heli. Tenders are also being held for a marina for large ships in Corfu, a marina at Pylos and a marina at Argostoli.

-Is the Strategic Investments Department accelerating its work? What are the biggest projects he will implement?

With the establishment of the Strategic Contracts Department, the Hellenic Investment Fund has effectively assumed the role of project manager for public sector enterprises. To date, the state has entrusted the state treasury with the completion of projects with a total budget of more than 5 billion; of which projects worth 3.5 billion are funded from the Recovery Fund. In the coming period, two more projects are expected to be implemented on behalf of the Ministry of Environment and Energy. Develop photovoltaic systems in partnership with municipalities to provide affordable green energy to thousands of vulnerable households and install photovoltaic systems with storage systems to support industrial production.

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