Greece Approves COSCO Piraeus Sale
Greek lawmakers on Thursday ratified the sale of a majority stake of Piraeus Port to China COSCO Shipping, a major privatization project of the bailed-out nation under a left wing government.
Under the 368.5 million euro ($410 million) deal, COSCO will buy 51 percent of Piraeus for 280.5 million euros ($312 million) and the remaining 16 percent for 88 million euros ($98 million) after five years and once it completes investments of 350 million euros over the next decade.
The sale of Greece's biggest port had been halted by the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras when it won elections in January last year but it was resumed under Greece's 86 billion-euro bailout deal agreed with its euro zone partners in August.
Privatizations are a major element of Greece's bailouts since 2010, but political foot-dragging and a highly unionized workforce in the public sector have been hurdles.
COSCO representatives in Greece objected strongly to terms of a first draft submitted to parliament on Wednesday, saying it clearly violated terms of the accord signed last April.
Greek officials scrambled on Thursday to fill in the gaps, while downplaying the fracas.
"The government, in concert with the privatization fund, did what it ought to do and made the required improvements to be consistent with the endorsement law," Olga Gerovasili, the government spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The port, a gateway to Asia, eastern Europe and north Africa, handled 16.8 million passengers and 3.6 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers in 2014. COSCO has been operating one of its container terminals since 2009.