Privatization Bids for Airline In
May. 14, 2001
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Three companies from Greece and Cyprus submitted binding bids Monday for a majority stake in the national airline, Olympic Airways, the transport ministry said.
Cyprus Airways, Axon Airlines _ a small private Greek carrier _ and Greece's Restis shipping group all made offers, details of which were not announced.
The government had invited bidders to purchase between 51 percent and 65 percent of Olympic.
An Australian venture capital company, Integrated Airline Solutions, pulled out of the bidding after expressing interest earlier this year.
The investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston is advising on the sale, and is expected to submit its review of the proposals to the Greek government by the end of the month.
Olympic's debt is estimated at around $100 million and any new owner also would have to confront strong labor unions that have resisted the privatization.
The airline was managed for one year by Speedwing, a subsidiary of British Airways, which had the option of buying up to 20 percent of Olympic last June but decided not to follow through with the deal.