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Greece Calls Off Privatization of Alexandroupoli’s Key Port Facility

ATHENS – Plans to sell a major stake in the northern port of Alexandroupoli – where the US Navy wanted to establish another base in Greece – were changed after the government said it had become too important a state asset.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed to broadcaster ANT1 a report by Reuters that “geopolitical developments” brought second thoughts about privatizing the facility.

Situated in northern Greece near the borders with Bulgaria and Turkey, Alexandroupolis has the potential of becoming an energy hub for central Europe as well, the news agency noted.

With Greece weaning off Russian energy supplies that were nonetheless exempted from European Union sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, the New Democracy government has turned to alternate sources.

That includes Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and there are plans to create a floating gas storage and regasification unit at the port, making Greece a critical factor for the 27-member bloc.

A source at the country’s privatisation agency, HRADF, told Reuters that the bidding process was likely to be cancelled because of the port’s elevated role after its “upgraded role, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Since then, the port of Alexandroupolis has also been used as an alternative route for the shipment of NATO military equipment to its eastern flank via Romania and Bulgaria, irritating Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He’s also upset over a renewed US-Greece military cooperation deal that would bring more American bases and has already seen more US forces in the port city but it wasn’t said what the cancellation of the sale means for that.

The privatization agency’s board will meet Nov. 10 to examine the case and the next steps for the port’s development, a source at HRADF not named told the news agency, no further details available.

The bidding process had drawn two bids, including American companies, Reuters said in September, including the Houston-based Quintana Infrastructure and Development and a joint venture including the Kentucky company Black Summit Financial Group sought the 67 percent share.

Quintana is working with Liberty Port Holdings Single Member, and International Port Investments Alexandroupolis is a joint venture with Black Summit, Belgium’s Euroports, Singapore’s EFA Group and Greece’s GEK Terna.

But the privatizations agency didn’t open the bids so the terms weren’t known, not to be revealed until some other specified time, no reason given for the delay for the crucial sale.

The New Democracy government has been seeking foreign investors in a bid to accelerate a slow recovery from the waning COVID-19 pandemic, the drawing back of the health crisis showing more interest from bidders.

A consortium of Attica Holdings with Aktor Concessions, another from Grimaldi Euromed with Minoan Lines and Investment Construction Commercial and Industrial, and the Thessaloniki Port Authority bid for a 67 percent stake in the northwestern port of Igoumenitsa but were asked to raise the offers.

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