Greek islands for sale to pay down debt

Guardian:

There's little that shouts "seriously rich" as much as a little island in the sun to call your own. For Sir Richard Branson it is Neckar in the Caribbean, the billionaire Barclay brothers prefer Brecqhou in the Channel Islands, while Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy on Skorpios, his Greek hideway.

Now Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sun-kissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts.

The Guardian has learned that an area in Mykonos, one of Greece's top tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale. The area is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer willing to inject capital and develop a luxury tourism complex, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Potential investors, who are also looking at property investments in the isle of Rhodes, are mostly Russian and Chinese. Investors in both countries are looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean as holiday destinations for their increasingly affluent populations. Roman Abramovich is among those understood to be interested, although a spokesman denied he is about to invest.

Greece has embarked on the desperate measures after being pushed into a €110bn bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund last month, following a decade of overspending and after jittery investors raised borrowing costs to unbearable levels.

...

When the debt crisis began some Germans suggested that the Greeks sell some of these islands and it appears they are embracing the suggestion. From an economic stand point it makes a lot of sense. Not only do the get cash for the sale, the property then becomes taxable and if it has a business on it that will generate tax revenue. The US should consider the same thing with some of its surplus property, particularly in the West.

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