Gov’t to try and retain 51% of DESFA for state in new tender

The coalition and energy ministry will battle to retain a 51 percent stake of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, for the Greek State in the new tender to be launched as a result of yesterday’s collapse of a long-running sale attempt offering 66 percent of the operator, sources have informed energypress.

“We did all that we could to finalize the sale and are now carrying on based on new conditions,” a ministry official commented.

For the time being, the coalition’s economic policy team will focus on reaching a decision next week on the percentage of DESFA to be offered in the follow-up sale attempt, which is considered certain as the operator’s sale is a bailout requirement.

Yesterday’s agreement collapse signaled the end of a marathon effort to sell DESFA’s 66 percent. The Azerbaijani energy firm Socar had emerged as the winning bidder for 66 percent of the operator in 2013. The European Commission eventually intervened over competiton concerns and demanded that the candidate buyer surrender at least 17 percent to a certified European partner, which brought Italy’s Snam into the picture as a partner in the deal.

The failed sale attempt creates a hole in the budget at TAIPED, the state privatization fund. The next set-up for the DESFA sale will need to be decided in conjunction with the country’s lenders. The details remain to be seen.