May 5, 2015 / 9:47 AM / 5 years ago

Greece to finalize airports deal 'immediately' - source

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will finalize “immediately” a 1.2-billion-euro ($1.3-billion) deal with Fraport (FRAG.DE) to run regional airports and reopen bidding for a majority stake in Piraeus port (OLPr.AT), a senior privatizations official said on Tuesday.

The asset sales had been in doubt after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist-led government took power in January but may be the latest concessions offered by his government to try to secure more bailout cash from international creditors.

The Greek finance, shipping and economy ministries involved in the sales declined to comment.

“The issue of regional airports will be concluded immediately,” the official at Greece’s privatizations agency HRADF told Reuters on condition of anonymity, noting that an announcement could be expected by May 15.

Tsipras’ government is trying to renegotiate a 240-billion-euro bailout and has said it would review the sales, though various Greek officials have offered contradictory statements on the fate of both the airports and the Piraeus deals.

Fraport and Greek energy firm Copelouzos had agreed with the privatization agency in 2014 that it would run the airports in tourist destinations including Corfu, striking one of Greece’s biggest privatization deals since the start of the debt crisis.

Under the terms of the deal, the German-Greek group was expected to spend about 330 million euros in the first four years to upgrade the airports, that will be leased for 40 years.

On Tuesday, the privatizations official said Athens would invite shortlisted investors to submit by July binding offers for a 51-percent stake in Greece’s biggest port with the option to raise their stake to 67 percent over five years.

“We will reopen the process in the coming days,” the official said.

China’s Cosco Group, which already manages two of Piraeus port’s cargo piers, is among five preferred bidders.

Greek port workers are due to stage a 24-hour strike on Thursday to protest against the privatizations of Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports, saying the government has rolled back on its pre-election pledges.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Deepa Babington and Louise Ireland

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