Off The Wire
Greece cancels transfer of Athens Water stake to privatisations' fund
ATHENS, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Greece cancelled the transfer of minority stakes in utilities Athens Water and Thessaloniki Water to the country's privatisations agency HRADF, the finance ministry said on Friday, meaning the state will retain majority stakes.
The two utilities are on the government's state divestments agenda this year. Athens plans to sell minority stakes in both firms to help pay down public debt. The ministry cited a top administrative court decision as part of the rationale for the move. The court has ruled that it would be unconstitutional for the state to have a lower than majority stake in Athens Water.
As a result 16.97 million shares in Athens Water, equal to a 15.97 percent stake, would return to government ownership, bringing the state's holding to just above 50 percent from 34.03 percent.
The privatisation agency can sell a minority stake of 11 percent in Athens Water from its remaining holdings.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos)