Creditors reportedly ask for detailed info on govt intent to purchase Thessaloniki’s urban bus system

10 July 2017
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The management of Thessaloniki’s private but state-subsidized urban bus network (OASTh) is reportedly considering various legal actions to block the stated nationalization of the mass transit monopoly in northern Greece’s largest city.

In comments to the press over the weekend, relevant Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis referred to a “de-privatization”, avoiding the “loaded” nationalization term, amid a period when the leftist-rightist government is committed to selling off state assets, as per obligations to institutional creditors.

Private shareholders of OASTh are also eyeing possible claims against the state worth up to 100 million euros in unpaid subsidies.

A draft bill tabled by the government last week envisions a liquidation of the company in the first stage and after the company is purchased by the Greek state.

In his comments to justify the move, Spirtzis, who is elected to Parliament from a Thessaloniki-area precinct, called the mass transit company an “economic oasis of wasting public money for the last 60 years.”

Nevertheless, he said the move will proceed only if creditors are persuaded that no economic burden will be added to the still bailout-dependent Greek state, on top of the already budgeted annual subsidies paid to the company.

According to press reports, representatives of creditors have already requested detailed economic data for OASTh in order to determine their stance.

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