At least one DESFA sale offer believed to exceed €500m

At least one of two second-round offers submitted last week by two consortiums participating in an international tender offering 66 percent of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, exceeds 500 million euros, according to energypress sources.

Such a level, if confirmed, would be well above the tender’s first-round offers and a winning 400 million-euro bid that had been submitted by Azerbaijan’s Socar to a previous tender, also offering 66 percent of DESFA, which was not finalized.

In another bonus, the government appears to have secured Greek State rights for natural gas projects and infrastructure of strategic interest in a shareholders’ agreement to accompany the transfer of DESFA’s 66 percent to a new strategic investor.

The Greek State will maintain the right to appoint a board president. Under the terms of the previous shareholders’ agreement, the Greek State was limited to appointing one board member with executive powers.

The two second-round offers are expected to be unsealed later today or tomorrow, the latest. If the information obtained by energypress is confirmed, then the government will certainly make the most of the outcome for political gains by claiming that the renewed sale effort has benefited the country.

An amendment submitted to parliament by the current government’s preceding energy minister Panos Skourletis signaled the beginning of the end for the first DESFA tender. It had been launched by a previous administration.

The current energy minister, Giorgos Stathakis, in an interview published by Greek daily Ta Nea over the weekend, supported that the leftist Syriza-led coalition is bolstering the Greek State’s interests and has also secured a considerably higher sale price for DESFA. Critics who condemned the government for its decision to cancel the previous DESFA tender, a move which they contended would undermine the country’s international credibility, should reconsider, the minister noted.

Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagás Internacional and Belgium’s Fluxys formed a consortium to participate in the DESFA tender. Another Spanish entry, Regasificadora del Noroeste (Reganosa Asset Investments) joined forces with Romania’s Transgaz and the EBRD, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, for the other offer.