Greece to conduct bold sell-offs in return for aid-papers

Reuters

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece is nearing agreement for supplemental EU/IMF loans of 50 to 60 billion euros to cover its funding gap in 2012 and 2013 in exchange for bold privatizations, Greek newspapers reported on Wednesday.

With borrowing costs at prohibitive highs, the overborrowed country is unlikely to be able to return to bond markets next year as planned under an EU aid package and will need a plan B to cover debt maturities.

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Greece denied reports on Tuesday it was discussing a new 60 billion euro ($84 billion) bailout with international lenders and its borrowing costs rose amid fears it may have to restructure its debt without further EU help.

France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde also said no decision had been taken on the possible amount or form of any supplemental aid for Greece, but that restructuring was out of the question.

"Greece is expected to sign a new memorandum with the troika (EU/IMF/ECB) to secure its continued funding with about 60 billion euros, in addition to the 110 billion euro bailout that is being disbursed," daily newspaper Ta Nea wrote.

The centerpiece of the new deal, the paper said citing EU/IMF sources, would be a very bold program of privatizations. It gave no further details.

Last month Greece's socialist government laid out plans to sell stakes in key state firms, aiming to raise 50 billion euros from privatizations by 2015.

A poll earlier this month showed the majority of Greeks see the sale of state assets as necessary to get the country out of its debt crisis, backing government plans to sell stakes in industries to help pay down the national debt.

In another report, financial daily Imerisia said Greece was close to an agreement on a new 50 billion euro loan that will be collateralized by liens on liquid and property assets.

Ta Nea said the new memorandum would be a condition for the EU and the IMF putting their final signatures on extending the repayment of the current bailout, which was agreed in principle at a euro zone leaders summit in March.

"The new loan, provided it is approved, will cover the needs of 2012, about 27 billion euros, and those of 2013 which are estimated at around 32 billion euros. It will be given by the EFSF support fund," Ta Nea said.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; editing by Patrick Graham)