A milestone agreement fully transferring the previously insolvent Elefsis shipbuilding complex from the state and creditors to a company already operating a smaller shipyard on the Cyclades Island of Syros was signed on Thursday in Athens.

The shipbuilding operation, based in the coastal industrial municipality of Elefsina, due west of Greece’s largest port of Piraeus, had for decades served as a major employer and maritime-related manufacturer, before accumulating hundreds of millions of euros worth of debts from annual operating losses, non-serviced loans and arrears to social security funds and suppliers.

The agreement will now be submitted to a relevant bankruptcy court for approval, something that is more-or-less assured.

The Greek state was represented by Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who signed the transfer and restructuring agreement, while the new ownership was represented by Onex Elefsis Shipyards and Industries S.A./ Onex Elefsis Naval & Maritime S.A. president and CEO Panos Xenokostas.

Other signatories included the manager of the special purpose company holding a majority of demands and bad loans owed by the previous shipbuilding company, a representative of Greek lender Alpha Bank and even the elected representatives of workers of the shipyard.

“Today is a historic day… because where we are today (hall) is where the first agreement was signed two and a half years ago with the unforgettable Nikos Tavoularis (the now deceased former president of the shipyards) … from the beginning of that day and afterwards much time has passed until we reached the desired result. I’d like to make a particular reference to the workers of the shipyard, which never, even for a day, stopped trying to find a solution for the resumption of operation of the shipyard, and I want to thank them for this,” Georgiadis said, while also thanking Greece’s Hellenic Navy and particularly to the US administrations, whom he said offered their full backing for a major investment in the Greek economy, the east Mediterranean country’s defense sector and bilateral relations.

In his statements, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said the development will have a major and positive impact for Greece’s domestic defense industry, given that decisions over the acquisition of new warships for the Hellenic Navy are pending.

The Elefsis Shipyards now figure as one of the conditions that the Greek government will set in any new naval shipbuilding programs, whereby some warships will be constructed there.

On his part, ONEX chief Xenokostas referred to the “rebirth” of the shipyard and resurrection of the entire shipbuilding and ship-repair sector in Greece, a country linked with the largest global ocean-going fleet in the world, as based on transport capacity.

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