Ships are docked at Piraeus port in Athens, Greece
Athens - XINHUA
The Greek Court of Audit, Greece's supreme administrative court, approved on Tuesday the sale of the majority stake of 67 percent in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) to China's COSCO, Greek national news agency AMNA reported, citing credible judicial sources.
Sources close to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) confirmed to Xinhua the development.
On February 17 Greece's privatization fund had declared COSCO Preferred Investor for the sale of the controlling stake in Greece's largest port for 368.5 million euros.
Under the concession deal which expires in 2052, COSCO will invest an extra 350 million euros over the next decade in infrastructure works at Piraeus.
Following the "green light" from the Audit Court, the agreement requires ratification from the Competitiveness Committee before the sale contract is signed and forwarded to the Greek parliament, AMNA noted.
The entire procedure should be completed by May, according to Greek government sources.
Also on Tuesday one of Greece's leading think tanks, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) released the results of a survey confirming the multiple benefits of the transaction to the Greek economy and society.
Greek officials, local business bodies and foreign experts have repeatedly stressed that new investments in Piraeus will further boost the port's role as a key transit hub for products in the Mediterranean, will create much needed job positions in the recession hit country and breathe life in the ailing economy by attracting more investors.
IOBE experts expect that the privatization of Piraeus port will generate half a billion euros in investments by other entrepreneurs in the first five years (867 million euros in total including COSCO's investment), according to the survey.
By 2025 at least 31,000 job positions will be created in a country enduring record high unemployment rates in the past six years, the Greek experts stressed.
"The privatization can play a catalytic role in the port's development, sending a strong signal to international markets that Greece is a safe and attractive investment destination," the IOBE survey concluded.
Since 2009 COSCO's subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) manages Piers II and III at Piraeus under a 35-year concession agreement posting remarkable results, while PPA today runs Pier I.
COSCO's vision to turn Piraeus into a leading international transit hub for products and services from Asia to Europe has already attracted other major multinationals at the port which are cooperating with PCT to distribute their products in the region.