New owner for Greek ferry firm
The new owners of Greek island ferry operator Hellenic Seaways pledge not to increase ferry ticket prices on popular Greek island routes when they take over the Greek ferry company later the year.
The ferry company Hellenic Seaways is to be taken over by Attica Group following the green light from Greece's competition authority.
Attica Group, which already operates the Blue Star and Superfast ferry lines, will take a controlling interest in Hellenic Seaways from the Italian Grimaldi Group.
The deal raises concern about ferry ticket prices and the ability of newcomers to break into the Greek ferry market on routes operated by Hellenic Seaways.
But part of the deal approved by the commission is that ferry ticket prices are put on hold and that competition remains open on ferry routes where Hellenic Seaways is the only company currently providing ferry services.
Hellenic Seaways has been sailing since 1999 in its current form and operates 18 ferries connecting more than 36 ports in the Northeast Aegean, the Cyclades, the Saronic Gulf and the Sporades.
Currently Hellenic operates ferry routes in the Cyclades from the mainland ports of Piraeus and Rafina to popular Greek holiday islands such as Ios, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini and Syros as well as regular services between islands in the Cyclades and Crete.
Other Hellenic routes include those from Piraeus to the Saronic islands of Aegina, Agistri, Hydra, Poros and Spetses as well as catamaran services in the Sporades from Alonissos, Skopelos and Skiathos to the mainland ports at Volos and Agios Konstantinos.
Also, under the terms of the takeover deal, Attica may be required to add routes to some of the more remote Greek islands that either don't have a ferry service or only irregular visits by ferries.
Attica Group CEO Spyros Paschalis said: "The completion of the acquisition of sole control over HSW by Attica Group in accordance with its business plan, creates the conditions for sustainable development of the Greek passenger ferry industry, supports the national economy, strengthens the local communities of island, employs local seamen and ensures the interests of shareholders through a strong and competitive production model."
Following approval, Attica Group is expected to proceed with the completion of the required contractual actions to acquire a 98.83% of HSW's share capital.
Hellenic Seaways has not only been providing ferry services in Greece for many years, it has also expanded its fleet over the past few years, launching nine new ships, two of which were built entirely in Greece.
in 2007 the Nissos Chios began ferry services from Piraeus to the islands of Chios and Samos and, in the same year, the luxury liner Ariadne, at that time the largest passenger vehicle ferry in Greece, started sailing from Piraeus to the Northeast Aegean islands of Ikaria and Samos.
And in 2016, Hellenic Seaways extended its ferry fleet further with the launch of the completely rebuilt Highspeed 7 and Hellenic Highspeed ferries as well as sailings of the 2,200-passenger and car ferry vessel Nissos Samos.