UPDATE 2-Greece has sole China-backed bid for former Athens airport site

Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:00pm EST

Related Topics

* Bidder says investment proposal will top 7 billion euros

* Athens hopes deal will help meet 2014 privatisation target

* Greece to evaluate bid by mid-March (Adds opposition, government comment in paragraphs 7-8)

By Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Greece's Lamda Development , backed by China's Fosun and an Abu Dhabi-based real estate company, submitted on Thursday the sole binding bid for a major privatisation deal to develop the former Athens airport of Hellenikon.

Greece has repeatedly missed privatisation targets and has so far raised 2.6 billion euros ($3.56 billion), well below the 22 billion targeted in its first EU/IMF bailout in 2010.

Hellenikon is a key project for the debt-laden country to meet a 3.6 billion euro privatisation target set by its lenders this year, though Athens has not disclosed how much money it expects to raise from the 99-year lease of the seaside property.

Lamda Development said the group would invest more than 7 billion euros in the project. Greece's privatisations agency HRADF will evaluate the bid by mid-March.

"Some of the world's biggest investment funds decided to invest in our country showing their confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy," Lamda's Chief Executive Odysseas Athanassiou said in a statement.

Athens expects the development of Hellenikon, located on Athens' southern coast, to create thousands of jobs in the country, where unemployment has hit a record of 28 percent.

Greece's anti-bailout opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, whose leftist Syriza party wants to turn the plot into a park, accused the privatisations agency of an "unprecedented clearance sale" of state assets that was against the publiic interest.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said Tsipras was trying to undermine the country's exit from the crisis and scare off investors. "We will not let Hellinikon become his rubbish dump," he said.

Two other suitors, Israel's Elbit Cochin Island and UK-based London and Regional Properties, pulled out of the race for the development of the 620-hectare site near central Athens. Qatar Diar also pulled out last year.

Hellenikon includes several abandoned Olympic venues built for the 2004 Games and a marina. Investors were first invited to express interest in 2011 but it has taken more than two years to settle planning issues and remove legal hurdles raised by opponents and local communities.

China's Fosun is also the second-biggest shareholder of Greece's top jewellery retailer Folli Follie. Al Maabar, a unit of Abu Dhabi's sovereign fund Mubadala Development, and European investors have also teamed up with Lamda for the project.

($1 = 0.7309 euros) (Additional reporting by Karolina Tagaris, editing by David Evans)

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