By Stelios Orphanides
Authorities are happy with investor interest in the privatisation of the Limassol port’s commercial operations, an official said a day after the government received a total of 14 offers from 10 bidders who factored in labour unrest.
“We‘ll continue immediately with the evaluation hoping we will be able to announce the first successful candidates soon,” Alecos Michaelides, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Communications, and chairman of the Cyprus Ports Authority, said in a telephone interview on Friday.
Michaelides added he hoped that in case one of the “experienced companies” succeeding in winning the competition, there would be an increase in business at Limassol port and subsequently to the economy in general. He added that the unrest ahead of the bidding procedure was expected as it was also the case in other countries and did not discourage investors from participating in the process.
“For our small island it is a positive thing that can help the rest of the economy to recover,” he said adding that he also hoped that the procedure will also help the government generate a considerable amount in revenue.
Six proposals were received for the container terminal, three for the marine services and five for the multipurpose terminal, the transport ministry said on Thursday.
According to people with knowledge of the situation, the bidders are China’s COSCO Pacific, Dubai’s DP World, the Saudi group Al Blagha Holidng, Britain’s Eurogate International, Germany’s Förde Reederei Seetouristik, the Philippines’ International Container Terminal Service Inc., Singapore’s Portek International Pte and others.
Michaelides said that recent labour unrest at the ports did not affect investor interest in the privatisation procedure which is part of Cyprus’s 2013 bailout terms.
Cyprus’s ports saw a drop in both cargo and passenger numbers in the first half of the year which Michaelides attributed to the economic crisis plaguing Cyprus for the past years and to geopolitical turmoil in the area respectively.
In January to June, the port of Limassol saw its container traffic drop an annual 7 per cent to 143,802 TEUs (which is the unit measuring the cargo capacity of a container), according to official data. In the first half of the year, the number of passengers who used the port of Limassol dropped 10 per cent to 44,441.