Greece to sell telecoms, state bank, top ports immediately

AFP, Monday 23 May 2011

Under pressure from EU and IMF creditors, debt-stricken country begins to privatise key state possessions

Greece on Monday said it would "immediately" sell stakes in telecoms giant OTE, the main ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki and state-owned Hellenic Postbank to help reduce its huge debt.

"The cabinet decided to immediately proceed with the sale of stakes in OTE, the Postbank, the Athens and Thessaloniki ports and the Thessaloniki water company in order to frontload its ambitious privatisation programme," Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said in a statement.

"To accelerate the process, the creation of a sovereign wealth fund composed of privatisation and real estate assets was also decided," he said.

Greece is under pressure from its EU and IMF creditors, who rescued the country with a massive loan last year, to deliver results on pledged reforms in order to secure funds worth 12 billion euros ($17 billion).

Its accumulated debt has exploded to 340 billion euros, making most analysts doubt that it can keep up with repayments without extra aid when the EU-IMF loan runs out in 2013.

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