DESFA tender bidders request 4-month deadline extension

Prospective investors participating in a renewed tender offering a 66 percent stake of DEFSA, the natural gas grid operator, have called for a December 22 deadline set for binding offers to be extended by at least three to four months, the operator’s administration disclosed yesterday.

TAIPED, the state privatization fund organizing the tender, wants the procedure completed as soon as possible, and is pushing for the submission of binding bids within January, following the festive season.

It remains unclear how the country’s lenders would respond to any further delay of this sale, being staged for a second time following last December’s collapse of a long-running international tender. Azerbaijan’s Socar had been declared the winning bidder of the previous sale effort, also offering 66 percent of DESFA.

A deadline extension would jeopardize the influx of this sale’s privatization revenues within 2018, as anticipated in the national budget.

Until now, the DESFA sale has been regarded as the only energy-sector privatization that stands a realistic chance of generating privatization revenues in 2018.

Planned sales in 2018 of stakes at DEPA, the public gas corporation, PPC, the main power utility, and ELPE, Hellenic Petroleum, are widely seen as unrealistic, despite their inclusion in next year’s national budget.

DEFSA’s international tender participants apparently requested a deadline extension last week.

Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagas, Belgium’s Fluxys and Dutch operator Gasunie, which joined forces for the DESFA tender, are one of two remaining participants. The other is Regasificadora del Noroeste, a Spanish entry bidding alone.