Olympic needs \'\'solid management\'\'
Olympic Airways needs "solid management and a clear business strategy," according to Haris Loizides, president of Cyprus Airways, which is part of a consortium seeking to take over the Greek public company.
"I think that with the right moves and provided there is a business sense in the decision making process, there is a very strong opportunity for Olympic Airways to turn around... The company is desperate for a solid management and a clear business strategy," Loizides said in an interview with AFP on Thursday.
"I feel that Olympic has a possibility to turn around and become a dominant carrier in the area, especially by exploiting the new airport in Athens which I think is a very important tool, for an airline to develop," he said. The new Athens airport is due to open in March.
Six investors or groups of investors including one international airline, Cyprus Airways, handed a London bank on Wednesday a "statement of interest" following a Greek government plan to privatize Olympic.
"Our intention is to participate within the consortium with a stake around 30 percent. The consortium would acquire at least 51 percent of Olympic, so indirectly we are going to control about 15 or 20 percent of Olympic," Loizides said. "We are participating in this venture to a consortium with other investors, of course Cyprus Airways will have a substantial stake within the consortium and a substantial role within the new Olympic Airways set-up."
The Cyprus Airways president said he could not for the moment disclose the other members of the consortium. "We are still in contacts and discussions with the parties which are interested in participating. "Our proposal is very thorough, it is an in-depth strategy proposal and a proposed business plan which is indicating the way we think that OA should move to get out of the stalemate of the debt."
At the end of 1999 Olympic had debts totaling 40 billion drachmas ($104 million), according to the government. "The impression is that we will not assume the debt which is not related to specific assets," the Cyprus Airways chief said. "If assets of OA, the aircraft or anything else, go together with a certain debt, then we will assume it. But any other debt will stay with the state."
At this stage the consortium has not made a specific offer. "It is a overall proposal, it covers all the aspects of OA group which includes OA, Olympic aviation, Olympic catering, engineering and a lot of other activities. So, our proposal is concentrating on everything," Loizides said. — (AFP, Athens)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)