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Bumper Year For Greek Casinos

The privatization of the Mont Parnes Casino is entering its final stage. Hyatt Regency together with construction company Hellenic Technodomiki have submitted one of the offers, while another bid came from the group of Club Hotel Loutraki, Piraeus Bank, the construction companies Balafas, Gekat and Gnomon, and ship-owner Marinakis.

The assessment committee has until the end of this month to announce details of the second and final stage of the privatization process. The bidders will then need to submit their financial offers by early March, which will then be followed by several rounds of auctions.

At the same time, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and his counterpart at the development ministry, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, will have to decide on the percentage of the casino to be offered for sale.

The most likely possibility is the sale of 49 percent of the casino, with the successful bidder taking over the management and concessions. It also seems likely that two-percent of the casino will be listed on the stock exchange.

The ministers will also need to determine the minimum auction price, which most likely will be somewhere between 88 to 102.7 million euros. The commercial worth of the casino is said to be around 14.7 million euros.

The state attempted to privatize the casino some six years ago but had to call off the tender due to a lack of investor interest.

In the meantime, the casino on Mount Parnes projects a 47 percent increase in total bets to 258.2 million euros and a 54 percent rise in revenue to 70.4 million for its financial year 2001, according to data issued in late December by Hellenic Tourism Properties.

The respective projections for the casino on Corfu, which is also state-owned, are a 14-percent rise in bets to 17.6 million euros and a 13-percent increase in revenue to 5.3 million euros.

As a whole, Greek casinos are expected to report an overall five percent increase in revenue when compared with last year.

According to forecasts, public revenues from the state’s share in the turnover of casinos and part of entrance tickets will record a more than 10 percent rise.

Concerning overall customers, Mount Parnes and Corfu casinos expect a combined 33-percent rise in the number of visitors from 338,000 to 450,000, but as a whole the number of visitors in all Greek casinos is slightly down.

Regarding Mount Parnes privatization, managing property company Hellenic Tourism Properties said: “The company is looking forward to cooperation with strong groups that could share the targets of the long-term investment initiative in the (Mount Parnes) casino and hotels complex.

“Groups that possess the corporate stability, credibility and the ability to pay the required price for the acquisition of a strategic share in Mount Parnes casino.”

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