Italian Operator Buys Greek Railways for 45M Euros

ATHENS — Italy’s state rail operator is set to buy its counterpart in Greece, in a 45 million-euro ($50 million) deal that is part of Athens’ bailout commitments.

A government privatization fund announced July 14 that it had accepted the offer from Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane for the whole of Greece’s money-bleeding Trainose.

The planned sale recently prompted days of strikes by rail workers that disrupted passenger and freight services.

Greece has promised revive its privatization drive, particularly of public utilities and infrastructure, as part of its third international bailout.

Privatizations are a key part of demands from the country’s creditors in return for three rescue packages totaling 326 billion euros ($361.37 billion).

Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras had vowed to reject the sale of state enterprises but has picked up the pace after surrendering to the lenders.

Ferrovie dello Stato last week submitted the sole binding bid for Trainose. Without the sale, Trainose would have had to return more than 700 million euros in state aid to the European Union, forcing it to shut.

Athens has been trying to sell the railways since 2013 but a government change and political hurdles held up the sale.

“HRADF concludes a process which started three years ago and secures Trainose’s viability and its future growth,” HRADF said in a statement.

Rail workers have been on strike for almost a week protesting the sale.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)