ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece has approved an offer from China's Cosco group to buy a 67 percent stake in the country's largest port, a state privatization fund said Wednesday, in a process initially opposed by the left-wing government.
The fund said it backed the improved offer from Cosco of 368.5 million euros ($402.5 million) for the 67 percent stake, or 22 euros per share of the Piraeus Port Authority, or OLP, which operates a port near Athens. OLP shares on the Athens Stock Exchange closed at 12.95 euros Wednesday.
"A major development and a very important milestone of the privatization program, in line with the commitments of the Greek Republic has been achieved successfully," a statement from the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund said.
It said the deal will eventually provide substantial financial benefits for Greece as it requires Cosco to make investments in the port.
Cosco's bid was improved from an original offer of 293 million euros ($319 million), according to a privatization fund official who asked not to be identified because that offer was not made public.
One of Europe's largest ports, Piraeus is the main gateway to Greek holiday islands and in 2014 handled 16.8 million passengers.
Cosco, owned by the Chinese government, was the sole bidder for the port, and already has a major presence in Greece following a 2008 concession agreement to manage container terminals at Piraeus.
Re-elected in September, Greece's left-wing government abandoned its opposition to major privatization projects after reaching an agreement with eurozone rescue lenders last year for a third bailout. Last month, the government reached a privatization deal worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) with German transport company Fraport to operate 14 regional airports.
Ferry services at Piraeus were halted Wednesday due to a strike against a proposed overhaul of Greece's pension system.
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Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund: http://www.hradf.com/en
Piraeus Port Authority: http://www.olp.gr/en/