DEPA Trade tender launch likely within May, minister tells

A tender offering investors a 50.1 percent stake of DEPA Trade, one of two new entities that have emerged from a company split at gas utility DEPA, could be launched within May, the country’s top energy sector authority has noted.

The prospect, expressed yesterday by energy ministry Giorgos Stathakis on the sidelines of an annual conference held by HAEE, the Hellenic Association for Energy Economics, has been confirmed by TAIPED, which expects to launch the tender some time during the latter half of the current month.

DEPA’s leadership has declared it is set for this step. Chief executive Dimitris Tzortzis expects a business plan for the natural gas utility’s commercial interests to be ready within the next week or two.

Sub-contracted external associates hired by DEPA on a regular basis and promised job security amid the company’s transformation will be transferred to DEPA subsidiaries – Attiki Natural Gas, EDA and DEDA – before ending up on payrolls, according to the plan.

A number of investors named by DEPA in the recent past as possible buyers are expected to be joined by US and UK funds, according to the company.

As for DEPA’s cash reserves, 110 million euros will be transferred to DEPA Trade and 70 million euros to DEPA Infrastructure, the other new entity emerging from the DEPA split.

Responding to reports claiming that a tender for DEPA Infrastructure could precede that of DEPA Trade – which would represent a turnaround in the order of events as they have been presented until now – Tzortzis, the gas utility’s head, said this is theoretically possible but would require a legislative revision.

Stathakis, the energy minister, and his associates are expected to hold talks during the current week on the next ownership steps to be taken for ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), after a recent tender offering a 50.1 percent stake failed to produce a result. This failure has impacted the DEPA sale procedure as ELPE holds a 35 percent share of the gas utility.

The Greek State offered 20 percent of its 35.48 percent ELPE share and the Latsis group’s Paneuropean Oil 30.1 percent of its 45.47 stake.