The schedule for the Greek State’s sale of its 35.47 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) remains unclear despite this privatization being declared a priority by the New Democracy government immediately following its election victory last summer.
Speaking yesterday at an energy conference, Athens Energy Dialogues, energy minister Costis Hatzidakis offered a rundown of the government’s planned privatizations for 2020. ELPE was not on the list.
Signs of a slowdown in the ELPE plan emerged in early autumn when energy minister Costis Hatzidakis requested patience from investors for this particular sale. Ministry officials reiterated this call for patience yesterday.
Towards the end of 2019, the privatization fund TAIPED declared that its 2.4 billion-euro revenue target for 2020 would be achieved as a result of a series of planned privatizations.
TAIPED, at the time, included the ELPE sale on its privatization agenda for 2020, along with Athens International Airport and the two new gas utility DEPA entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure.
Some pundits have attributed the government’s ELPE delay to a decision by the Latsis Group, ELPE’s main shareholder with a 45.48 percent share, not to sell and not wish the entry of any new investor into the petroleum group’s equity make-up.
Certain industry experts have gone as far as to say that the ELPE privatization has been cancelled.
Others are attributing the ELPE sale delay to the launch of the DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure privatizations. ELPE holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA and these new entities, established to serve the DEPA privatization.
Also, less favorable international conditions at present cannot be overlooked. Hatzidakis, the energy minister, has, from early on, been adamant on selling at the right time, when international conditions are at an optimal level.