Financial advisers recruited for DESFA sale, interest emerging

One Greek and one foreign bank have been recruited as financial consultants for the renewed attempt to sell a 65 percent stake of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator. According to sources, the tender for financial advisers was completed last week and endorsed just days ago by the board at TAIPED, the state privatization fund.

ELPE, an indirect DESFA participant through DEPA, the public gas corporation, with a 35 percent state, announced yesterday that the sale procedure is expected to take at least 6 to 12 months to complete.

A number of moves still need to be made, beginning with the hiring of a legal consultant before the new DESFA tender is announced and bidders express their initial interest, followed by binding interest and, if needed, improved follow-up offers. The new tender is not expected to be announced before the end of the upcoming summer. Of course, interested parties may begin examining the investment prospects at DESFA sooner, as is already the case.

If the new tender is staged and completed by the end of this year, which is possible only if the related preliminary work is performed swiftly, then the sale procecure would be completed no sooner than the first half of 2018. Any sale agreement reached will be subject to the approval of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition and ratification in Greek Parliament.

An initial attempt to privatize 66 percent of DESFA ended late last year. The Azerbaijani energy firm Socar was declared the winning bidder but European Commission intervention over competition concerns as well as DESFA revenue-limiting revisions imposed by the Greek government eventually led to the long-running sale effort’s demise.

According to sources, ar least two foreign consulting firm representatives have, over the past few days, begun collecting related details for investors considering the forthcoming DESFA sale.

These representatives are believed to have met with local authorities, DESFA as well as various energy-sector agencies to establish a clearer picture of the natural gas market’s framework for their clients.