DESFA sale possible by end of year, says privatization fund chief

An agreement to sell a stake in DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, to Azeri energy company Socar may be completed by the end of this year, Stergios Pitsiorlas, president of TAIPED, the state privatization fund, has told Reuters.

In order to overcome European Commission concerns over the deal, the Azeri company may agree to accept acquiring a reduced 49 percent equity share of DESFA, instead of 66 percent, as had originally been agreed, the Greek official noted.

A number of European corporate groups, including Belgium’s Fluxys, have expressed an interest to acquire the 17 percent stake expected to be surrendered by Socar, according to Pitsiorlas.

The TAIPED head informed that privatization revenue objectives for this year will not be met as a result of delays encountered in completing a 1.2 billion-euro deal for the sale of 14 Greek regional airports to Germany’s Fraport.

“If Fraport is not ready to sign an agreement in October, when its letter of guarantee expires, then we may discuss a small extension,” Pitsiorlas told Reuters.

The latest bailout agreement for Greece has set an objective of 1.4 billion euros to be raised this year through privatizations. Pitsiorlas said the target for 2016, set at 3.7 billion euros through the sale of state assets, could be reached. Greece needs to raise a further 1.3 billion euros in 2017, according to the bailout agreement’s privatization plan.