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HPH pulls out Thessaloniki bidding process

HPH pulls out Thessaloniki bidding process

Athens: Greece's second largest port has revealed that Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) and Greek pharmaceutical group Alapis, highest bidders for Thessaloniki port's (OLTH) cargo facilities have pulled out of the tender, writes Reuters. The port said the two sides were about to draft contracts after the joint venture led by HPH, the port operating arm of conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, prevailed in the tender to run and upgrade container facilities at OLTH.

"The consortium of Hutchison Port Holdings, Hutchison Port Investments, Alapis and LYD informed OLTH that it is withdrawing its interest in the container facilities of the port," OLTH said in a bourse filing.

"The reasons for the withdrawal have to do with the economic crisis which has affected many sectors, especially shipping, and the difficulty of banks to finance Hutchison's ambitious plans," OLTH spokesperson Chrysanthi Athanasiou said. Greece, with two of the largest harbours in the eastern Mediterranean, launched tenders earlier this year to privatise the outdated port facilities at the northern city of Thessaloniki and Piraeus Port, which serves Athens.

Greece's conservative government wants to turn Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports into regional hubs and boost their cargo business. The country's finance ministry declined to comment on Hutchison's withdrawal.

HPH, which has operating rights in 45 ports around the world, had offered 3.1bn euros ($4.94bn) over the 30-year duration of the project. It had also pledged to invest 489m euros to upgrade the port's facilities.

Cosco Pacific, the world's fifth container port operator which won a tender to run Piraeus Port, had offered 881m euros for Thessaloniki and planned to invest 331.5m euros in upgrades.  [24/12/08]