ELPE considering DESFA repeat for DEPA privatization

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) is considering placing for sale its 35 percent stake in DEPA, the public gas corporation, along with the Greek State’s bailout-required sale of its 65 percent share of the utility, which would represent a repeat of the ongoing sale effort of the natural gas grid operator DESFA, a wholly owned DEPA subsidiary, according to sources.

Though it is still too early to tell as DEPA’s future role in the country’s retail natural gas market remains unclear and, furthermore, the latest sale attempt of DEFSA is still in progress, such a scenario is possible.

“When you don’t control a company, or, in other words, don’t possess its management rights, there’s no point in maintaining your stake,” a well-informed source told energypress.

ELPE moved with such thoughts in mind in the case of DESFA, a privatization expected to propel many developments in the country’s energy sector. DESFA’s eventual privatization will help shape the prospective DEPA sale. The gas utility represents an entirely different prospect with and without DESFA on board.

Bidders taking part in DESFA’s international tender must submit binding offers by February 16. If asked to improve their offers, a preferred bidder may not be declared until late February or early March. TAIPED, the state privatization fund, will need to wait until this stage is reached before launching a tender offering 65 percent of DEPA, assuming the latter has, in the meantime, reached an agreement wih Shell, selling its 49 percent stake in gas supplier EPA Attiki, which covers the wider Athens area. DEPA holds a majority 51 percent stake in EPA Attiki and wants to increase its interests.

Though everything will need to run like clockwork if these developments are to be sorted out on time, not a certainty given local experiences in the past, ELPE may be in a position to announce its DEPA-related plans in approximately one month. For the time being, ELPE is focused on its upcoming 2017 financial results and the impact of increased crude prices on the evaluation of its reserves.

Just a few weeks ago, ELPE sources noted that the petroleum company was headed for record results, despite the interrupted operation of refineries in 2017. ELPE sources expect an EBITDA figure of more than 800 million euros, or even over 850 million euros. This will greatly depend on international crude price fluctuations, which influence the value of reserves.