Greece plans new measures, denies debt restructuring

By Ingrid Melander

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will present new fiscal and privatization plans on Friday in an attempt to convince investors it can meet the terms of an EU/IMF bailout and avoid restructuring its debt.

Analysts said the announcement was unlikely to mute increasing concerns that Athens' debt mountain is unsustainable and that Greece will eventually have to ask investors to accept changes such as smaller or later repayments, although the government reiterated on Wednesday it had no plans to do so.

Government and labor union officials said the ruling socialists were considering selling stakes in power utility PPC <DEHr.AT> and in telecoms operator OTE <OTEr.AT> as part of a drive to raise 50 billion euros ($72 billion) from privatizations by 2015, a key requirement of its bailout.

"The target for privatizations looks really optimistic ... Greece needs to put in place a realistic and detailed plan of how this is going to be implemented, what is going to be privatized and how it's going to take place," said Diego Iscaro, at IHS Global Insight.

"This could create a bit more confidence in markets that these targets are going to be achieved," he added.

It was not clear if the government would come up with detailed plans or if it will stick to a general outline and wait to spell things out when it submits a bill to parliament in May.

"It is a mid-term strategic plan ... so our country can not only exit the crisis, but have a prospect, have a future," government spokesman George Petalotis told reporters.

Government officials said the cabinet would meet on Friday morning to agree on the measures, which are also expected to include public sector benefit cuts and effective tax hikes, aiming to save about 23 billion euros in 2012-2015.

A top International Monetary Fund official in Washington said on Wednesday that bailouts for Ireland and Greece do not envisage restructuring of their debt.

But some analysts said that however substantial the plans announced are, this will not be enough to convince investors Greece can avoid a restructuring.

"It would take quite a big turnaround for people to become less concerned about default and I don't think a few more fiscal measures will have much of an impact," said Ben May, at Capital Economics.

Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou reiterated on Wednesday that the government did not intend to restructure debt, saying such a move would shut the country out from the markets for a long time and hurt the economy.

"Debt restructuring is a position the government does not agree with," he told a conference.

He said that although the drive to cut deficits was "a painful procedure," Greece's economy bottomed out in the final quarter of 2010 and growth data for the first three months of this year will show improvement.

(Additional reporting by George Georgiopoulos, Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)