World Bulletin / News Desk
Greece wants binding bids for its state-owned natural gas company andgas grid operator by the end of September and hopes to complete their sale in late autumn as it revives its privatisation drive, a government official told Reuters on Monday.
Hoping to regain credibility with international lenders keeping Greece afloat, the new conservative-led government has made speeding up privatisations a priority but has admitted delays from repeat elections in May and June.
After a meeting between political leaders and the finance minister on privatisations, the official said the government's priorities also included the sale of betting firm OPAP , the old Athens airport and buildings in Athens and on the islands of Corfu and Rhodes.
"What we're aiming for through the privatisations, apart from generating revenues, is to change the role of the state in the economy," the official said on condition of anonymity.
He said Russian, Italian, U.S. and French companies had expressed an interest in the natural gascompany DEPA and gas grid operator DESPA.
Athens initially targeted privatisation proceeds of 50 billion euros ($62 billion) by 2015 but cut the targetto 19 billion euros after a making slow start on the programme.
Former privatisations chief Costas Mitropoulos, who stepped down last month after accusing the government of hindering his efforts to sell assets, estimated that Athens would not raise more than 300 million euros from privatisations in 2012.
It had targetted 3 billion euros for this year.
More than 90 percent of the privatisation programme includes the lease and sale of concessions of state land and infrastructure, the government has said.
European stock markets are also set for a weak start, with Italy underperforming as investors brace for turbulence and political crisis in the euro zone's heavily indebted third-largest economy.
The euro tumbled on Monday after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he would resign as he conceded defeat in a referendum over his plan to reform the constitution
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Turkish parliament has already ratified the deal on construction of ‘TurkStream’ natural gas pipeline
The September rate was revised to 9.9 percent from the 10 percent first given last month.
Many analysts had expected the producers' cartel to fail to reach a deal as major players like Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia remained divided ahead of the meeting.
The report, which collects views of economists, business contacts and others in the 12 Federal Reserve districts in preparation for the monetary policy meeting next month, noted improved retail sales and home construction in most regions.
If the cartel does not reach a deal to cut output, prices could fall below $40 a barrel
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Around midday, shares in Italian lenders Unicredit and Banco Popolare were down 4 percent compared with Friday's closing levels.
Officials on Friday's said the tie-up between the Hong Kong and Shenzhen markets will start on December 5.
The announcement comes as the country is gearing up for a key election next year, with the parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand right-left coalition keen to woo ageing voters.
The weak inflation data -- core prices excluding fresh food fell 0.4 percent from a year ago -- come several weeks after Japan's central bank pushed back the timeline for hitting its 2.0 percent inflation target.
Roberto Azevedo says he is 'ready to talk' to US President-elect who has promised to pull US out of other trade agreements