Consortium backed by Abu Dhabi's Al Maabar planned to turn 620-hectare airport site into glitzy coastal resort
Greek auditors have blocked the $1.2 billion sale of a prime seaside property at the abandoned Athens airport Hellenikon, sources said on Wednesday, the country's biggest privatisation deal since the financial crisis.
In March, the country's privatisation agency HRADF picked Lamda Development, backed by China's Fosun and Abu Dhabi-based property firm Al Maabar, to turn the 620-hectare wasteland into a glitzy coastal resort.
The consortium was the sole bidder and won a 99-year lease for the area which spans three times the size of Monaco after offering €915 million.
A court official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the auditor had blocked the sale because the tender terms violated the principles of transparency and equal treatment.
The privatisation agency will appeal the decision, an official at HRADF (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund) told Reuters.
The Hellenikon project is seen helping Greece meet privatisation targets set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund as part of a €240 billion bailout. Athens wants to raise €22 billion by 2020.
The project is also expected to boost the economy, which is seen growing moderately this year after a six-year recession.
But the sale could take up to two years to complete due to a series of approvals needed, including the auditor's green light.
The auditor has challenged previous privatisations, including the sale of 28 state assets to two Athens-based firms but the deal was finally cleared.
Greece has lowered its privatisation targets several times because of red tape and a lack of investor appetite after teetering near bankruptcy.
Athens now aims to raise €1.5 billion from asset sales this year, down from an initial target of €3.6 billion.For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Greece is a lost case. The bureaucratic so called "democratic" mentality of Greeks destroyed and continue to destroy this beautiful country. What a shame that Greeks cannot open their mind and move forward!
Well, well, just a mere $915 million for a prime location area of three times the size of Monaco... To me, that really sounds a LITTLE bit on the low side.