Competition committee key to DEPA-Shell deal, utility privatization

A Competition Committee decision on the DEPA gas utility’s local takeover agreement with Shell, crucial for the outcome of the utility’s privatization, could be delivered today.

DEPA and Shell have stuck a deal entailing the Greek utility’s acquisition of the Dutch firm’s 49 percent share of the EPA Attiki gas supply and EDA Attiki gas distribution ventures covering the wider Athens area. DEPA already holds the majority 51 percent in these ventures.

Competition Committee officials are examining whether the DEPA-Shell deal would constitute an over-accumulation of power. The committee’s examination is focused on DEPA’s dominance as a gas supplier in the wider Athens market combined with its key role in the country’s wholesale gas market.

The time it will take to complete this examination will determine the ensuing DEPA privatization’s schedule.

The DEPA-Shell agreement is planned to serve as a basis for a plan to split DEPA into two corporations, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure.

According to TAIPED, the state privatization fund, a draft bill for DEPA’s split needs to be submitted to parliament in October, while non-binding bids in a tender for DEPA Trade, the first part of the sale, are planned for November.

A 50.1 percent stake of DEPA”s trading firm is expected to be offered to investors. The Greek State is expected to retain a 51 percent stake in DEPA Infrastructure.

Certain pundits do not expect the DEPA privatization procedure to be completed before the summer of 2019. Municipal, European Parliament and national elections are all due in 2019, which has raised fears of DEPA privatization delays.