ELPE, Edison talks for possible DEPA Trade joint bid at advanced stage

Hellenic Petroleum ELPE and Italian business partner Edison have reached an advanced stage in talks on whether to jointly bid for a majority stake of DEPA Trade, one of two new entities that emerged from a recent split at gas utility DEPA.

Edison’s existing association with ELPE through electricity retail firm Elpedison makes the Italian company a clear favorite for a role as the petroleum group’s bidding partner for DEPA Trade.

However, if the two sides end up not joining forces for the DEPA Trade tender, ELPE will need to decide on whether to pursue this sale alone or seek an alternative partner, sources at the petroleum group told energypress.

Many details still need to be resolved for the DEPA split. The privatization fund TAIPED has yet to set a launch date for the DEPA Trade tender. Officials at the fund believe the procedure can commence in Maym even if some of DEPA’s split details are not completed this month.

On the other hand, pundits believe investors cannot seriously consider the DEPA Trade tender if the details of what exactly is being sold remain unclear.

DEPA’s shareholders have requested assurances that a DEPA board decision for a transfer of approximately 70 million euros to DEPA Infrastructure, the company split’s other new entity – the Greek State will retain a majority stake in this venture – as a bonus, will not undermine DEPA Trade or force this venture to seek credit solutions. Shareholders may even seek expert advice on whether DEPA Trade could face sustainability issues. Hellenic Petroleum ELPE holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA. The Greek State maintains a controlling 65 percent share through the privatizations fund.

Given the shareholder uncertainties, the DEPA board has promised to offer substantiated backing for its wider plan with support from consulting firm PwC before May 31. A general shareholders’ meeting needs to be held by this date for the DEPA split plan to be completed.