Under pressure to accelerate the country’s privatisation programme, Greece has finalised the sale of its rail operator TrainOSE to Italy’s state railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane. The deal will bring in €45m.
As reported by The Financial Times, privatisation officials argue the sale completes a series of infrastructure sales to international investors that will boost Greece’s role as a transport and tourism hub for the eastern Mediterranean.
TrainOSE runs a loss-making international freight business and a subsidised passenger service linking mainland Greece with central Europe. Italy’s FS is expected to take over the operation of TrainOSE this year.
“[FS] is making an important commitment to strengthen and develop TrainOSE with its expertise and experience, thus creating a major provider of railway services,” Antonis Leousis, chief executive of the Hellenic Asset Development Fund, the Greek privatisation agency, said at the January 18 signing ceremony.
The sale has still to be approved by the European Commission and ratified by the Greek parliament.
According to the Financial Times, following the signing of the sale agreement, the European Commission is expected to drop an investigation into allegations that €700m of government subsidies pumped into TrainOSE amounted to illegal state aid.