The biggest real estate project in Greece and the most iconic privatization of the post-bailout era was finally concluded on Friday, as the country’s privatization agency transferred land shares to the property developer that won an international tender to exploit the coastal Hellenikon site.
In turn, the Greek state sunk a total of 647 million euros – 347 million euros in the form of a letter of guarantee – into its coffers, the first payments accompanying the concession deal with Athens-based and ATHEX-listed Lamda Development.
The development comes seven years after Lamda won the international tender, and almost 20 years since the old Athens airport that operated from the site was closed.
The current Mitsotakis government has invested enormous “political capital” in first jump-starting and then shepherding the massive privatization towards a successful conclusion. The project was listed in successive bailout agreements (memorandums) with European creditors, and is one of a handful of “litmus tests” considered by international investors to test the government’s volition in pushing through reforms and privatizations.
Bureaucratic hurdles and foot-dragging, political opposition – mostly by Greece’s left-wing parties – numerous legal challenges at all levels and even by bordering municipalities, along with the nearly decade-long recession delayed the project for years.
Lamda, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund – Greece’s semi-autonomous privatization agency – and the Greek government have billed the emblematic project as worth a total of seven billion euros, making it one of the biggest in the European continent at present.
The signatures by the heads of the Fund and the HELLINIKON GLOBAL I SA, a subsidiary of LamdaDevelopment, of the Private Share Transfer Agreement (STA) for the acquisition of 100% of the share capital of the company “Hellenic SA”, marks the beginning of the project that is meant to change officially the image of Attica in the next decade.
The transfer contract for the shares from Hellenic SA was signed by the Executive Director of HRADF, Panagiotis Stampoulidis and the CEO of Lamda Development, Odysseas Athanassiou.
The development marks the beginning of the commercial exploitation of the entire site, which includes the adjacent Agios Kosmas coastal strip, thus commencing one of the biggest urban regeneration projects in Europe.
The signing took place in the presence of the Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras, the Minister of Development & Investment, Adonis Georgiadis, Deputy Minister of Development & Investment, Nikos Papathanasis and the Chief Executive Officer of the Superfund, Grigoris Dimitriadis.
On his part, Stampoulidis stated:
“Almost ten years have passed since the beginning of the HRADF competition for the Hellinikon Project in 2012. Today’s signing seals the implementation of an emblematic course for the development of the investment country, which approaches 8 billion euros and creates the prospect of thousands of jobs with multiplicative economic benefits for the Greek state, the local and wider economy and society. In the forthcoming years, Attica will acquire the largest urban park in the whole Europe. Finally, I would like to thank the HRADF executives for the tireless effort and dedication they showed. Not to forget to mention our legal and technical-economic advisors as well as all those who contributed their efforts to complete this extremely demanding project”.