Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Austria Forced to Suspend Sale of Two Mountains

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The Austrian government has abruptly pulled two sky-high pieces of real estate – majestic peaks offering stunning alpine views – off the open market after an outpouring of national outrage over the perceived sell-out of the nation's heritage.

BIG, the agency that purchases state property and manages it in the public interest, announced the decision after discussions between Economics Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner and top officials in charge of the agency.

"We have suspended the sale to evaluate alternative possibilities," agency spokesman Ernst Eichinger said. He said the transaction would likely go ahead but buyers would be restricted to "Austrian institutions" instead of the highest free-market bidders.

The peaks are in the easternmost part of Tyrol province, home to some of Europe's highest mountain ranges.

The "Rosskopf" is more than 8,500 feet high, the "Grosse Kinigat" nearly 8,800 feet. They are on offer together for £107,000.

Austria is fiercely proud of its alpine ranges. Its national hymn begins with the worlds "Land of Mountains," its history is replete with the heroic exploits of rugged mountain men – and news over the weekend that the two summits were up for sale next month quickly went viral. » | Tuesday, June 14, 2011