Israelis invited to buy up Greece's infrastructure

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 |  Yossi Aloni

Israeli companies, with the encouragement and assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are taking advantage of the economic crisis in Greece to find some bargains while helping to advance the privatization efforts of the Greek government.

As a means of coping with the ongoing crisis, the Greek government has decided to privatize dozens of government companies, including the national lottery, the old Athens airport, the national oil company, refineries, the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloníki, local water companies, large industrial plants and more.

In recent months, top Greek officials visited Israel to find investors. They met with a number of top Israeli business leaders and presented the various opportunities to invest in and own Greek infrastructure.

These meetings have already led to a number of signed deals. Israeli mega-corp Elbit won a tender to buy the old Athens airport, and a number of hotels were purchased by Israelis in hopes of boosting Israeli tourism to Greece. An Israeli company is also in talks to buy Greece's national oil company.

In August, Israeli business leaders were invited to a state dinner in Athens in honor of the Greek president. Greece sincerely hopes the Israeli investment in its economy will create the jobs and economic growth needed to pull the country out of the gutter.

Israeli-Greek relations have been warming up for some years, especially in light of growing tension between the Jewish state and Greece's traditional rival, Turkey.

That's why when Greece joined other European nations last month in voting to recognize a state of "Palestine," Israel perceived the move as a slap in the face from a close friend. But Jerusalem ultimately decided to shrug off the UN vote, assuming that with its current economic difficulties, Greece could not afford to lose investment and business from Arab and Muslim states.

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