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Capital from the east rushes into Greece

13 March 2013 / 17:03:18  GRReporter
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Greece’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met face-to-face with the president of Gazprom’s management board, Alexi Miller, in Athens this week. The two men discussed at a 40-minute meeting the investment opportunities in Greece that would draw the interest of the Russian energy giant. According to capital.gr, the meeting took place behind closed doors and without an interpreter to limit leaks of information.

Gazprom is one of the candidates for the purchase of the public gas company DEPA. Because of its dominant position on the market, it is able to make the most attractive offer for the company in privatization. The Russian side wants Athens to be a "fair player" in its decision on the privatization of DEPA as reported by To Vima. Gazprom wants assurances that the new owner of the Greek gas company will be objectively selected in accordance with the price offered and that the decision will not depend on political influence and pressure.

The official announcement of Gazprom about the visit states that Miller had a business meeting with Antonis Samaras and Minister of Economy and Development Kostis Hatzidakis. "The two sides discussed the issues of cooperation in the field of natural gas and the opportunities for the participation of Gazprom in the privatization of DEPA in particular," stresses the Russian giant. According to unofficial information, other topics under consideration were the South Stream project and the establishment of an electricity production plant that would be supplied with Russian gas. So far, it is known that the inter-state agreement for the supply of natural gas between Greece and Russia will end in 2016.

The negotiators want to find the most favourable terms that will satisfy both sides. Local analysts comment that the Russians are becoming more persistent as the end of the second phase of the auction is approaching. Their competitors in the race for DEPA are Socar, which is Azerbaijan's public gas company exploiting the deposits in the Caspian Sea, the Russian industrial holding Sintez and Motor Oil Hellas of Greek oil tycoon Vardis Vardinoyannis in combination with the Miltiadis holding. The main competitors at present are Gazprom and Sintez, but the supporters of gas supply diversification prefer Socar to buy DEPA.
 
Meanwhile, the Lebanese owner of the Greek shipyard Skaramanga, Iskandar Safa, has arrived in Athens. He also met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to negotiate the new terms of the orders of three 214-type submarines. Minister of Economy Kostis Hatzidakis and Minister of Defence Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos attended the meeting with the businessman as well. Currently, Skaramanga is operating at its lowest capacity and the employees, who number more than 1,100, are working in shifts once a week.

The cause of the contention between the government and the shipyard owners is the delayed payments for the orders. In times of deep recession, the government wants to restore the activity of already established companies and is willing to negotiate in order for Skaramanga to start working at its full capacity again.  The management of the company from Lebanon wants the government to pay at least part of its obligations to avoid the full closing of the production in the Mediterranean country. Secondly, it wants Greece to assist in lifting the ban of the European Commission, which stipulates that the shipyard has no right to complete orders for the construction of commercial and military vessels for third countries.

Last but not least are the ambitions of Greece to attract resources from the strong countries of the Middle East in order to finance the recovery of economic growth. "Our goal is to first establish an investment fund to invest in the Greek economy. Secondly, for this fund to assist in the completion of major projects in the private sector. Thirdly, to trigger the privatization under the auspices of the Public Property Management Agency," said Deputy Minister of Economy Notis Mitarakis, who had taken part in the establishment of the Greek-Qatari investment fund last week. The local government greatly hopes that this fund will play a crucial role in turning the page in the economic life of the country and that the capital from Qatar will not be delayed and will soon pour fresh money into the real economy.

 

Tags: EconomyMarketsQatarGazpromRussia
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