Greece’s Court of Audit has put in doubt the privatisation deal to develop the coastal property of the former Athens airport of Hellinikon because it allegedly violated the rules governing tender procedures.

The decision follows an appeal by the HRADF (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund) and the consortium that won the tender, after an initial court decision in September had blocked the deal, estimated at €900 million, on the grounds that legal persons had been excluded from the tender and that the rules of transparency had been ignored. German company ‘Hellinikon Global’ contended that the exclusion of natural persons (i.e. not legal entities such as companies or organizations) had left it out of the tender.

The court rapporteur on Friday accepted the appeal filed by HRADF that the exclusion of natural persons was not illegal but it stated that the rules of transparency had been violated during the tender procedure. 

The consortium, led by Lamda Development (a real estate developer controlled by Spiro Latsis, Greece’s richest man) and backed by China's Fosun and an Abu Dhabi-based real estate company, which was the sole bidder, won a 99-year lease for the  620-hectare area.

However, representatives of the consortium and HRADF said the decision was wrong and insisted that the privatisation of the capital’s former airport must continue.

A final court decision is expected by the end of the month and, if the rapporteur’s recommendations are heeded, the privatisation of the former airport will be blocked.

The former airport was a major privatisation aim for the government in its bid to meet targets set by the country’s international lenders.