by (Reuters), (Athens News)
The government has launched a multi-billion euro tender to attract international investors to one of Europe’s biggest real estate projects at the old Athens airport of Elliniko.
The tender, originally planned for September, is part of an ambitious privatisation programme designed to raise 50bn euros by 2015, a key condition for the EU/IMF bailouts.
The plan is to turn 530 hectares of coastal land in the Elliniko suburb into a development mix of residential, tourist and business sites alongside a marina, although a law spelling out how the land will be used has not yet been finalised.
“We expect strong international interest in this project and the investment to stimulate growth in the Greek economy,” said Kostas Mitropoulos, head of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, the state’s privatisation agency.
“This is an excellent opportunity to develop a world-class destination benefiting Athens, Greece and the eastern Mediterranean,” he said in a statement.
Greece had tried to lure the cash-rich Arab emirate Qatar to the project but talks were abandoned in favour of a tender to meet competition rules.
The Elliniko airport closed in 2001 and has turned into a wasteland packed with rusty airport equipment. Once-busy terminals now stand empty only a few hundred meters from the Aegean Sea.
Efforts by successive governments to find some use for it have stumbled on protests from locals, a soured international investment climate and the country’s debt crisis.
The state privatisation committee has picked US bank Citigroup, Greek group Piraeus Bank and construction consulting firm Hill International as advisers.
Greece anticipates initial bids will be submitted by 30 March 2012 and a bidder decided by the end of next year.