UPDATE 1-China's Cosco eyes bid for Greece's largest port- paper

Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:55pm EST

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ATHENS, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Chinese shipping group Cosco is considering investing one billion euros ($1.34 billion) in Greece's largest port at Piraeus (OLP), which is on the government's privatisations agenda, financial daily Imerisia said on Monday.

"The Chinese group would be interested in acquiring a 60 percent stake in OLP," the paper said without citing sources.

It said Cosco is planning to make the investment proposal after Athens decides what procedures it will follow on the privatisation of its two largest ports -- Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port.

Speaking on state television late on Monday, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said Cosco had "shown an interest" in expanding its investment in Piraeus. He did not give details.

After securing the unlocking of bailout funding from its international lenders, Athens is turning its focus on investments to jump start the country's slumping economy, which is in its sixth straight year of recession.

Cosco has already made a major investment in Piraeus port, which is 74 percent state-owned.

"We are not aware of such information," an OLP official who declined to be named told Reuters.

Officials at Greek privatisation agency TAIPED were not available for comment.

In 2011, more than 20 million passengers and 1.7 million containers passed through Piraeus, the country's busiest port and a gateway to Eastern Europe, according to the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP). ($1 = 0.7482 euros) (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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