Greece is in advanced talks with China’s Cosco Group, a major shipping company, over the sale of a majority stake in the country's largest port Piraeus, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on Friday.
"We are in very advanced talks to expand this cooperation very soon in relation with the inclusion of a railway network as well," Kammenos said at an economic conference in Athens, Reuters reported.
Greece said on Thursday that it had opened bidding for a 51 percent stake in Piraeus to three firms -- Cosco, Dutch container company APM Terminals, and the Philippines' International Container Terminal Services. The move fulfills one of the major demands placed upon Athens by creditors from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.
It has also agreed to privatize regional airports to attract investments at a time when its public finances are perilously low.
Greece’s ruling left-wing Syriza party came to power in January staunchly opposing the privatization schemes. However, as negotiations with its creditors have worn out, Athens has found itself having to make concessions in order to secure access to a 240-billion euro ($272 billion) bailout fund.
European regulators have also asked for other reforms including labor market deregulation, pension cuts and sales tax reform, which has led to frequent clashes between Syriza and its creditors.
However, Greek Economy Minister George Stathakis said the country had made significant progress in recent weeks. “The gap between Greece and its creditors has been closed on most issues and while there are some areas of concern to do with the pension system and reform of value-added taxes, there are ways to bridge this difference and come to an agreement,” he told Bloomberg on Thursday.