US Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt in his address to the annual conference of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, raised serious questions about the Thessaloniki port concession, suggesting a possible lack of transparency in choosing the consortium that won the related tender.
“We have seen the difficulties privatisation faces in Greece, as in the Thessaloniki port, where it’s unclear who the private investors actually are and where their money comes from,” the US Ambassador underlined.
Observers viewed the US envoy’s comment as a thinly veiled reference to Russian businessman and Greek athletic club and media owner Ivan Savvidis’ participation in the consortium that received the Thessaloniki port concession, and the consequent influence of Russian capital.
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) in June unanimously declared the consortium comprised of Deutsche Invest Equity Partners GmbH, Ivan Savvidis’ Belterra Investments Ltd., and Terminal Link SAS as the Preferred Investor for the acquisition of the 67% of the shares of Thessaloniki Port Authority SA., in accordance with the terms of the tender process, having considered all the required documents on time submitted by the Highest Bidder. The tender dossier will be submitted directly to the Court of Audit for pre-contractual control and the share sale contract will be signed after the approval of the Court. The completion of the transaction is subject to the competent authorities’ approval,” HRADF announced at the time.
Growing US investment interest
Pyatt said he been an eyewitness to the growing interest of American investors in Greece, as they believe the country has reached rock bottom and is on the rebound.
“I have more American companies coming to see me at the Embassy right now than at any time since I arrived in Athens. American investors are taking a new look at Greece. Now, it’s up to the government to sustain the message Prime Minister Tsipras conveyed when he was in the U.S. about investment, openness and predictability – creating an environment that allows for economic growth,” the ambassador said.
“Whether it’s interest in a Hollywood-style film studio on Syros, or interest in the Alexandroupoli port privatization, in civil aviation, tourism related services or the Syros shipyards, big American investors and companies are looking for ways to partner with Greek companies and take advantage of the value proposition that Greece represents.”
«We’ve created a bilateral investment committee chaired by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Economy Minister Papadimitriou with a working group here in Athens. We intend to use this platform to help build on the positive momentum of the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States by making sure that concerns from American companies are quickly brought to the top of the Greek government and to unblock the bureaucracy so that we can move ahead. We want to make sure that policy makers are connected to the business world so that they understand the reality of what’s happening on the ground and what we need to drive growth forward,» Pyatt concluded.