* Landmark property deal will help Athens meet privatisation
* Sole bidder improved offer by 25 pct to 915 million euros
* Greek privatisation agency will most likely accept the
(Adds comments, background)
By Harry Papachristou and Angeliki Koutantou
ATHENS, March 26 A Chinese-backed group is set
to win Greece's biggest privatisation prize so far, a
915-million-euro deal to develop a prime seaside property at the
former Athens airport of Hellenikon, two sources close to the
talks told Reuters.
The sole bidding group, led by Greek real estate firm Lamda
Development and backed by China's Fosun and
Abu-Dhabi-based property firm Al Maabar, raised its initial
offer by 25 percent, the country's privatisation agency HRADF
said in a statement.
According to two senior HRADF officials directly involved in
the talks, the improved offer is satisfactory and will most
likely be accepted by the agency's advisers.
"I consider it highly unlikely that our advisers will
recommend us to turn down the offer," one of the two officials
told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Advisers Citigroup and Piraeus Bank will
submit their opinion on the improved bid in the coming days.
A third of the amount offered for the 99-year-lease of the
620-hectare-property, which is three times the size of Monaco,
will be disbursed immediately on completion of the deal, with
the rest to paid out within 10 years, the HRADF statement said.
Lamda Development, controlled by the powerful Greek Latsis
family, has promised to invest more than 7 billion euros in the
project. Greek economic institute IOBE has calculated it may
create directly and indirectly about 50,000 jobs over 10 years.
Fosun is the second-biggest shareholder of Greece's top
jewellery retailer Folli Follie HDFr.AT. Al Maabar is a unit of
Abu Dhabi's sovereign fund Mubadala Development.
Hellenikon, one of Europe's biggest real estate projects,
will go a long way towards helping Greece meet the privatisation
targets set by its international lenders, and attract
investment to revive its ailing economy battered by six years of
Greece has to raise 3.6 billion euros from asset sales this
year. But the bar may be lowered because privatisations of
natural gas distributor DEPA and utility company Athens Water
, initially planned for 2014, will be pushed back,
senior HRADF officials have told Reuters.
About 3.9 billion euros worth of privatisation deals have
been signed since Greece's bailout began three years ago,
raising so far about 2.6 billion euro in cash. It was supposed
to have raised about 22 billion euros by the end of 2013, under
the original terms of its bailout in 2010.
Athens has pledged to its lenders to redouble its
privatisation efforts to qualify for new bailout loans and
attract private investment for its economy.
($1 = 0.7254 Euros)
(Reporting by Harry Papachristou and Angeliki Koutantou;
Editing by Tom Heneghan)