DESFA tender relaunch headed for sale of 66% stake

Latest developments concerning the new DESFA (natural gas grid operator) international tender, being prepared following the original sale effort’s recent collapse, indicate that a 66 percent stake of the operator will once again be offered.

The time lost through the previous sale effort, which produced a winning bidder in 2013 and eventually folded late in 2016, has increased the pressure for a quicker process this time round.

Authorities hope the prospective sale’s proceeds will be injected into the state privatization fund TAIPED’s coffers within the current year.

After having kept its intentions under wraps, ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) has opened up and declared it will either sell its 35 percent stake in DESFA and completely withdraw from the operator or seek to acquire 31 percent of the Greek State’s 66 percent DESFA share now held by TAIPED.

However, the privatization fund has already rejected the prospect of selling the Greek State’s 31 percent to ELPE, noting this would prompt legal complications, sources informed.

The government is hoping the Greek State will end up with a 51 percent share of DESFA.

In more recent times, ELPE has expressed a growing interest to remain involved in the natural gas sector, believing the market’s growth prospects in southeastern Europe are favorable.

Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, which holds a 45.5 percent stake in ELPE, also subscribes to this point of view.

Ultimately, the amount prospective buyers will be willing to pay should influence the thinking at ELPE.

Greece’s energy ministry has yet to disclose details on the new sale effort. Pundits believe the new procedure will be finalized towards the end of this month. In this case, the new tender could be launched within February and finalized in September or October, officials estimate.

Certain authorities linked to the matter believe that the price to be offered for DESFA – assuming 66 percent will be put up for sale – will be less than the 400 million-euro amount offered by Azerbaijani energy company Socar in the previous tender.