Greek Postal Privatization

August 19, 2010

The Wall Street Journal reported in March that the Greek government was turning to the privatization of state assets to help reign in its debt burden. We suggested that the U.S. should follow suit, and offered Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service as two ripe targets for privatization.

The New York Times reported last month that the Greek government is trying to sell half of its money-bleeding Hellenic Railways to the French. Unfortunately for the Greeks, Hellenic Railways suffers from a lot of the same problems the U.S. has with Amtrak (as we pointed out) and thus finding a buyer will be difficult.
The USPS inspector general recently noted that the Greek government plans to sell 39 percent of its national postal service, Hellenic Mail.
From the article:
Despite this partial privatization, the Greek government will still control 51 percent of Hellenic Post. Hellenic Postbank holds the remaining 10 percent. It will also remain the dominant company in the Greek postal market as EU regulators put off fully opening Greece to postal competition until 2013. This special regulation is because Hellenic Post must serve a large number of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, making its universal service obligation far more expensive than most other areas of Europe. This also makes the Greek situation unique.
The important information here is that the European Union, despite delays, is moving toward de-nationalization of its member nations’ postal operations. This means postal operators will be subjected to competition.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any interest in Congress or the administration to entertain ideas like privatization or subjecting the USPS to competition despite its grim long-term prospects.



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