DEFSA bids, submitted a month ago, to be opened next week

Following considerable delay prompted by an extensive check of bid details, TAIPED, the state privatization fund, is finally expected to open, late next week, two offers submitted to an international tender offering a 66 percent stake of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator.

The offers were submitted exactly one month ago, on February 16. As the disclosure date approaches, expectations are high for offers in excess of 500 million euros. Azerbaijan’s Socar had offered 400 million euros in a preceding and unfinished international tender that had also offered investors a 66 percent stake of DESFA.

Commenting on the issue yesterday, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis said the two offers would be “opened up in a week”.

In an effort to offer participants greater incentive for higher bids, TAIPED set a condition requiring an additional round of bids should the current offers, set to be disclosed, be less than 15 percent apart. If the difference between the two bids is greater than 15 percent, then the highest bidder will automatically be declared the preferred bidder.

Three factors have contributed to the upbeat expectations for elevated offers. One of these has to do with the natural gas market prospects in southeast Europe as a result of new pipeline projects and plans in the region. The steady returns promised by DESFA’s tariffs are a second reason. Thirdly, the operator’s substantial cash reserves are another attraction for investors.

Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagás Internacional and Belgium’s Fluxys have joined forces as one of the two bidding teams. Their rival team is comprised of Spain’s Regasificadora del Noroeste (Reganosa Asset Investments), Romania’s Transgaz and the EBRD, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.