July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Greece’s government named a former chief executive of the country’s largest power company to head a state-asset sales drive as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras seeks to pay down debt to help finance an international rescue.
Takis Athanasopoulos, a former Toyota Motor Corp. executive and chairman and chief executive officer of Public Power Corp SA from 2007 to 2009, was named chairman of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, according to an e-mailed statement from the Athens-based Press Ministry today. Ioannis Emiris, head of investment banking at Alpha Bank SA, was named chief executive, according to the statement.
Samaras named the two to the vacant positions at the fund as a team of inspectors from the euro area, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund began work in Athens on how far the country has strayed from bailout terms that will determine the fate of future payments. Samaras said on July 6 that asset sales agreed with the so-called troika of creditors was a priority of his coalition government.
Greece is behind on money-raising targets tied to 240 billion euros ($292 billion) of rescue packages in the past two years. Costas Mitropoulos, who was appointed to the HRADF a year ago, resigned on July 20, citing a lack of support from Samaras’s government and saying it’s “unlikely” more than 300 million euros will be achieved this year. The target was to raise 3 billion euros in 2012.
Samaras has pointed to rail transport and energy as priorities for a rejuvenated asset-sales plan. Athanasopoulos, a U.S.-trained business manager and university professor, helped found Toyota’s Greek unit in 1986, and battled unions at Public Power during his tenure over issues ranging from job cuts to teaming the state-controlled company with partners such as Germany’s RWE AG.
As an investment banker at Alpha Bank, Emiris is involved in advising on the sale of a stake in Public Power, which is slated to occur after structural reforms to liberalize the energy sector. Alpha has also been retained to advise on options for public gas company Depa SA. Fourteen investors, including Azerbaijan’s Socar, OAO Gazprom and Italy’s Eni SpA and Edison SpA, are on the short-list for the sale of the natural gas company and grid operator.
Mitropoulos resigned a month after the agency’s chairman, Ioannis Koukiadis, stepped down as the fund struggled to execute sales amid uncertainty about the country’s future. The program was frozen during the political limbo between Greece’s two elections on May 6 and June 17.
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