Big Story 10

Greece completes sale of railway operator to Italy's Ferrovie

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece concluded on Thursday the sale of railway operator TRAINOSE to Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato [IPO-FERRO.MI] and expects hundreds of millions of euros to be invested in the country’s aging rail infrastructure in the coming years.

Under its current bailout, its third since 2010, Greece was expected to sell TRAINOSE and other state assets to raise 6 billion euros ($6.2) by 2018.

Greece will fetch 45 million euros from this sale and expects a further 500 million euros in railway investment from the Italian company, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, a crucial boost for a country hungry for investment as it emerges from a debt crisis.

The deal was signed in the island of Corfu, where Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, along with a group ministers, met to boost ties in energy, finance and migration.

“It’s a very important investment and I would say the beginning of a series of very serious Italian investments in the Greek economy,” Tsipras said in a joint news conference with Gentiloni.

Ferrovie said on Thursday it was ready to spend up to 500 million euros in Greece in the coming years, mainly to buy new trains, if conditions allowed it.

Athens had to privatize TRAINOSE or shut the firm and return about 700 million euros to the European Union in state subsidies that the country extended to the company in the past.

Greece wrote off this debt, after an approval by the European Commission.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou in Athens and Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Editing by Mark Potter