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Greek Banks Face up to Challenge of Selling State Property

By Allison Halliday | June 24, 2011

Greek banks face a massive task as the country has promised to raise €35 billion through the sale of state property by 2015 to avoid defaulting on its debts.

Greece state property
Greece faces numerous problems selling off its state properties. Courtesy of Hurriyet Daily News

However the banks charged with the sale have a difficult job ahead. All in all, nine domestic banks are advising the government, and must examine each property individually to ensure they can actually be sold legally.

This is a tricky task as Greece is the only European country that doesn't have a centralized registry of deeds. According to George Papaconstantinou, who was Greek finance minister until June 17, around 40% of state registered properties are disputed while another 25% have legal status which is somewhat questionable.

Laws passed last November which should have sped up the sale of state property have failed to make any impact, and the government has failed to appoint a general secretary for real estate. Part of the problem is that the government hasn't really decided what to do about the sale of state assets, and is still considering several options including 99 year leases, sale and lease back deals, or packaging assets into publicly traded securities.

greek protests
The government is desperate to do something to appease protestors in the country, but the sale and lease back plan has many holes in it, experts say. Courtesy of Sulekha

Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, and certain major developers have already said they will not risk purchasing and developing land from the government if it is only leased.

Apparently Greece is the wealthiest European country based on state real estate assets as a proportion of economic output.

Allison Halliday is a Realty Biz News contributing writer. She handles International Real Estate and is a seasoned blogger.
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