Athens, Greece (PortSEurope) February 8, 2020 – Greece’s ports are becoming a geopolitical and financial playground that has drawn interest from all the major powers, according to an article in the English language edition of Greek Kathimerini daily. Companies from the U.S., China and Russia, but also from Israel, Italy and Germany, have already set foot in or set their sights on Greek ports, from
Alexandroupoli in the north to Iraklio in Crete, and from Igoumenitsa and Astakos in the west to Volos and Kavala in the east and northeast respectively. The U.S. is seeking a stake in the ports of Igoumenitsa, Kavala and potentially Volos via private American companies but with funding from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).China’s state-controlled COSCO has already acquired 51% of Piraeus Port (OLP). Although it seems focused on its primary activity – container handling – Beijing has never kept secret the significance it attributes to the economic diplomacy of the New Silk Road initiative in a bid to expand its influence in the Balkans and in Europe (See details in PortSEurope story Piraeus is the head of the dragon). In Thessaloniki (ThPA) , two-thirds of the 67% stake is now controlled (after the divestment of Deutsche Invest Equity Partners – DIEP) by the Greek-Russian businessman Ivan Savvidis, who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin (See full details in PortSEurope story Controversial Russian businessman, close to Putin, to control Thessaloniki port). Two American companies and ThPA are eyeing the ports of Alexandroupoli and the pier Philippos II in Kavala.Regarding Igoumenitsa port, also under tender, whilst the Savvidis Group wants Thessaloniki to be the premier port for the wide Balkan region, it also wants access to the Adriatic Sea, which Igoumenitsa – easily connected to Thessaloniki via the Egnatia Highway – offers. There are other suitors for Igoumenitsa – Grimaldi Group, Attica Group, Greece’s largest passenger shipping group, an alliance of other Greek passenger shippers and a German passenger shipping company with significant presence in the Adriatic Sea. Israel is another potential player in the geopolitics of Greek ports. It encourages talks between Israeli business groups (AMPA Capital and Israel Shipyards) with Greece about possibly taking part in tenders, such as the one for Volos, buyouts of other ports, such as Astakos, in western Greece, and Elefsina, near Athens or alliances with U.S. firms such as ONEX, and is in the running for that of Elefsina. The ports of Iraklio and Corfu, now being prepared by privatisation agency TAIPED for lease through tenders, are separate cases. The Grimaldi Group, which owns local Minoan Lines, is interested in Iraklio, but so are domestic groups active in the tourism and airline sectors. Patras port is expected to draw the interest of Attica passenger shipping group, if it cannot win the tender for Igoumenitsa. In the port of Lavrio, southeast of Athens, privatisation officials see possibilities for a large marina, a cruise terminal and domestic passenger shipping, but there is also interest from companies who want to revive international routes, such as between Greece and Turkey, Greece and Syria and others. A Turkish company is one of them and the Russians are also interested. Copyright (c) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.