Further steps taken with ELPE, DEPA privatizations

Procedures leading to the bailout-required energy-sector privatizations of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) have taken further steps following the Government Council for Economic Policy’s approval of a plan by TAIPED, the state privatization fund.

At this stage, the Asset Development Plan (ADP) has yet to make any reference to specific dates, noting talks with consultants steering the sales for the utilities have yet to be completed. TAIPED sources have indicated that the ELPE and DEPA sale procedures are gaining momentum, which should lead to a clear picture within the next month or two.

If the ELPE privatization is to go ahead, both the Greek State (35%) and the main shareholder, Paneuropean, a member of the Latsis corporate group (45.47%), will need to concurrently sell stakes.

Various scenarios remain possible for the DEPA privatization, including selling to a strategic investor or through the bourse.

The need to resolve a conflict of interest as a result of DEPA’s majority stakes in both EPA Attiki and EPA Thessaly-Thessaloniki gas supply firms is a key matter in this sale.

As for the 17 percent sale of PPC, the main power utility, Greece’s other main energy-sector privatization, no further initiatives can be taken unless the bailout-required sale of PPC lignite units, now at the end of the market test stage, has cleared up.

Procedures concerning the sale of PPC’s 17 percent are lagging behind by comparison to those of all other energy-sector sales. A tender for a consultant, to assess options for TAIPED, was only just announced, on December 5. The choice of a strategic consultant and TAIPED’s evaluation of options will follow. The possibility of issuing a convertible bond rather than selling PPC’s 17 percent through the bourse is likely, despite remaining unconfirmed.

The deadline for binding offers concerning the sale of a 66 percent stake of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, remains set at February 16 after being delayed by a few weeks. Though not specified, authorities are aiming for the establishment of a DESFA sale agreement by April and completion in June.