Diplomats speak out on DESFA ahead of offer disclosures

The financial offers submitted slightly over a fortnight ago by participants in an international tender offering a 66 percent stake of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, could be opened by the end of this week, if the required legal and technical inspections of the sizeable dossiers accumulated by two bidding teams have been completed.

Diplomatic interventions, seeking to sway opinions, have surfaced as the disclosure of financial offers approaches.

Italian Ambassador to Greece Efisio Luigi Marras lent support to an offer submitted by a Snam-led consortium, also comprised of Spain’s Enagás Internacional and Belgium’s Fluxys.

“I understand that, especially amid the current economic conditions, price is important for these types of transactions, which is the right thing. However, looking ahead to the future, what counts most is the quality, reliability and strength of a partner chosen,” Marras told the Athens News Agency in an interview.

The US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, speaking to a group of energy sector authorities, noted that Snam, through its participation in the DESFA tender, is not only interested in the Greek market but the wider network of the western Balkans, all the way to Ukraine.

His comments were interepreted as an indirect form of support for the tender’s other bidding team made up of Spain’s Regasificadora del Noroeste (Reganosa Asset Investments), Romania’s Transgaz and the EBRD, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, whose participation could lead to US involvement.

Officials continue to believe that offers could reach, or even exceed, 500 million euros. Azerbaijan’s Socar, the winning bidder of a previous and unfinished attempt to sell a 66 percent of DESFA, had offered 400 million euros.

Follow-up offers could be requested if the initial are deemed to be unsatisfactory.