Mytilineos Eyes Major Stake In Shipyard

Tuesday, November 21, 2000
Greek engineering and metallurgy group Mytilineos is eyeing a majority stake in Hellenic Shipyards in an effort to penetrate further into Greece's defense industry, a company official said. "The group is interested in acquiring a 51 percent stake in Hellenic Shipyards at Skaramanga, however, this will depend on the terms to be set by the Greek government," Vangelis Mytilineos said.

"The shipyard has liabilities of 100 billion drachmas and 2,200 employees. We are in talks with Greek and foreign parties to form a joint venture but more important will be securing better privatization terms."

Last week, in an amendment to a draft bill presented to parliament, Greece allowed for ETBA Bank that owns 51 percent of the shipyard to reduce its stake, opening the way for its full privatization.

While deep in debt, Hellenic Shipyards is considered attractive in large part because of its participation in the defense ministry's 4.0 trillion drachma armaments programs -- the building of warships and submarines for the Greek navy.

"A modern shipyard is effectively an assembly line and this can be fully complemented by Metka, which applies this logic in the case of ELBO, the Hellenic Vehicles Industry," Mytilineos said. In late August Mytilineos and subsidiary Metka agreed to buy a 43 percent stake in ELBO for 4.14 billion drachmas. "An investment of $100 million is absolutely necessary to upgrade Hellenic Shipyards and workers must have a 10 to 20 percent participation so that everyone has an incentive and benefits from its recovery," he said.

But finding funds to finance such an investment is a difficult task nowadays as share prices have significantly deflated on the Athens bourse. "We have significant liquidity of 30 to 40 billion drachmas today and a very good credit rating should we opt to borrow funds," Mytilineos said.

"We are not in a hurry for the shipyards. Don't forget that if we manage to turn around ELBO, this will be an advantage for our plans to take over the shipyards. We want their workers to see this."

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