Kidnappers freed an elderly Greek shipping magnate early Tuesday, eight days after abducting him at gunpoint from a seaside suburb of Athens, police said.

Periklis Panagopoulos, 74, was found in the Aspropyrgos industrial area outside Athens early Tuesday, police said in a statement. The magnate's wife, Katerina Panagopoulou, told private Alter television that her ailing husband was unharmed.

Police said the crew of a passing patrol car found him in a parking lot on a main highway some nine miles southwest of Athens.

Press reports said Panagopoulos' family paid the kidnappers an undisclosed sum in ransom early Monday, but police could not immediately confirm that.

Three gunmen had snatched Panagopoulos and his driver from near the shipowner's home in the southern Athens suburb of Vouliagmeni on Jan 12. The kidnappers later left the driver tied to a tree but unharmed otherwise. Two vehicles used in the kidnapping were found burned a few hours later.

Police had appealed for Panagopoulos' release, saying he suffered from serious medical problems that meant he required daily medication.

Panagopoulos founded Royal Cruise Line in 1971, with his ships offering cruises around the world. He later sold the company and founded Attica Group, a company that owned two of Greece's largest ferry lines running routes within Greece and from Greece to Italy. He no longer runs the company.

Kidnappings are rare in Greece, but prominent local businessmen have occasionally been abducted for ransom. Last June, gunmen snatched Greek industrialist Giorgos Mylonas from outside his home in the northern city of Thessaloniki and held him for 13 days until his family paid a ransom.

In August, police arrested four suspects in that case, including Greece's most wanted man, convicted armed robber Vassilis Paleokostas. Paleokostas had escaped from a maximum security prison in Athens in 2006 using a helicopter commandeered by accomplices.