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New Greek leader faults ports’ privitisation scheme


THE new leftist Greek government has rejected suggestions it was relenting on ending privatisation of state assets and said it would stick with plans to stop the sale of  Piraeus and Thessaloniki to Cosco Pacific, the front running bidder.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s new leftist government has sought to cancel key terms of Athens’ bailout programme from international lenders, including what it calls the “crime” of selling off strategic national assets, Reuters reported.

“We are not discussing any further sale or privatisation of Piraeus Port or Thessaloniki port,” government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Greek television.

China’s Cosco manages two of Piraeus port’s cargo piers and had been shortlisted along with another four suitors as potential buyers of a 67 per cent stake in the port under last year’s privatisation scheme. 

Athens says it is not against the concession granted to Cosco but only opposes the port’s sale.

Meanwhile, international accountant and shipping adviser, Moore Stephens says shipping needs to adopt a can-do attitude in order to successfully meet the challenges which are likely to come its way in 2015.

Moore Stephens shipping partner Richard Greiner said: “Shipping confidence started 2014 on a six-year high and ended it on a two-year low. It is difficult to predict with any certainty what the next 12 months will bring, beyond further uncertainty. To paraphrase an old adage, shipping goes into 2015 needing to accept the things it cannot change, to change the things it can change, and to make sure it understands the difference between the two.

“Top of the list of things which shipping cannot change is the relentless march of regulation. In 2015 this will assume still more onerous proportions with the inception of new regulations governing Emissions Control Areas, and a further step towards ratification of the BWT Convention.

“Overtonnaging, meanwhile, is top of the list of things which shipping can change. Accelerated scrapping is needed, together with an acknowledgement that there are already too many ships on the market and that, absent some form of rationalisation, freight rates will not pay the bills.

“One area where shipping can demonstrate that it knows the difference between what it can and cannot change is in its attitude to private equity. Does private equity not know what the rest of us know, or does it know something the rest of us do not? Rather than bemoaning the short-term commitment of private equity, shipping should be looking to tick the boxes which attract such investors.

“Operating costs will go up in 2015, along with the cost of regulation, while it would be no surprise if oil prices were to go up faster than freight rates over the course of the year. Environmentalists will be happier with shipping. There will be increased interest in risk management, without which there will be still more newbuilding disputes of the type currently sitting on the desks of arbitrators, and more companies following the unhappy route into bankruptcy taken at the end of last year by OW Bunker.”

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