The Greek government has agreed on a deal to sell the flying operations of Olympic Airlines to private consortium Marfin Investment Group, despite a bid of twice the value from private rival Aegean Airlines.
Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis said: “The government’s legal and financial advisers informed us that the negotiations with MIG’s advisers for the sale of Olympic’s flying activities and technical base ended successfully.”
Despite Aegean’s bid being double that of MIG’s, government sources said it was doubtful the merger would meet European Union competition rules.
“The agreement…will be put before the government’s privatisations committee, which is awaiting the approval by the European Commission,” the minister said.
MIG offered 45.7 million euros for Olympic’s flying operations and 16.7 million offer for the technical base. Aegean offered 90 million euros for the flying operations and 20 million euros for its base. It also offered 60 million to buy Pantheon, a company set up by the government as a successor of debt-free Olympic Airlines.
Marfin Investment Group is an investment group led by Greek entrepreneur Andreas Vgenopoulos. It has investments ranging from coastal shipping and tourism, to healthcare and real estate, spanning several countries in southeast Europe. Dubai Group, the Gulf state’s investment arm, holds a 17 per stake in Marfin.
The European Commission last year paved the way for Olympic’s privatisation by writing off over €2.6bn in accumulated debt of the perennially loss-making airline, which was losing €2bn a day in the fourth quarter last year. It also suspended court action over the repayment of €850m in state aid.