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Privatization of Thessaloniki Port postponed as Russian guarantor bank gets bailout

Greece has had to postpone the signing of a deal to sell a majority stake in its second-biggest port after the Russian guarantor bank, Promsvyazbank, was placed under temporary administration and was practically nationalized by the Centrla Bank of Russia. Odd that the US Ambassador to Athens had criticized the investors and the source of money already beginning of the month.

A German-led consortium was due to sign the deal on Friday afternoon. However, instead of the announcement of a successful deal worth 231.9 million euros, Greek Privatization Fund announced the signature postponement.

The signing for the sale of a 67% stake in the Thessaloniki Port to a consortium of Deutsche Invest Equity Partners GmbH, Belterran Investments Limited and Terminal Link SAS is postponed to December 21, due to financial problems facing private Moscow-based Promsvyazbank Bank. The bank is the issuer of the transactions letter of guarantee, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) said on Friday.

HRADF’s announcement reads:

“Following the respective agreement among all the parties involved, HRADF announces the postponement of the signing of the Share Purchase Agreement of 67% of ThPA S.A. to Thursday, December 21st at 18.00, for reasons of force majeure involving the Promsvyazbank Bank, namely the issuer of the transaction’s letter of guarantee.

The aforementioned option was unexpectedly and unpredictably imposed, due to a decision by the Central Bank of Russia to put the above bank under temporary administration.”

It is worth mentioning that US Ambassador to Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt had expressed suspicion on the privatization of Thessaloniki port on December 4th 2017.

“We have seen the difficulties privatization faces in Greece, as in the Thessaloniki port, where it’s unclear who the private investors actually are and where their money comes from,” Pyatt said during the Economic Conference of American Chamber in Athens. Among others he had also stressed that American investor were up for “transparency.”

This remark sounded odd as one of the investors is Russian-Greek businessman Ivan Savvidis, who in the last years acquired ownership of FC PAOK, several media and businesses in Greece.

On 15 December 2017 the Central Bank of Russia placed the private bank under temporary administration, effectively nationalizing Promsvyazbank.

The consortium consists of Savvidis Belterra Investment at 20%, French Terminal Link at 33% and German Invest Equity Partners with 47%.

The consortium will have to come up with new transaction guarantee letter by December 21st.


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