Outcome of gov’t-Latsis talks on ELPE expected within 10 days

Negotiations between the government and the Latsis group for a deal that would offer the prospective buyer of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) a 51 percent stake plus managerial rights have reached an advanced stage, suggesting that if an agreement is to be reached, then this will occur within the next ten days, a source closely following the developments has informed.

The government is looking at a plan that would give the buyer a stake of at least 51 percent in the petroleum firm. The Greek State holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, controls a 45.47 percent stake.

The two sides are now working on finalizing the details of this 51 percent offering as well as a series of other issues, primarily technical, the source informed.

The Greek State is expected to offer 20 percent of its 35.5 percent stake and Paneuropean Oil 30.47 percent of its 45.47 percent stake.

Greek privatization fund officials believe this privatization can be completed this year, assuming investors express interest and the sale’s prospective international tender runs smoothly.

An assortment of figures has emerged concerning ELPE’s market value. Officials participating in the negotiations are keeping a distance from one evaluation approach contending that, based on last year’s financial figures, ELPE is worth between 5 and 6 billion euros, meaning that a 51 percent stake would cost investors around 2.5 to 3 billion euros. Given the current market conditions, such a price tag will not easily lure strategic investors.

Though ELPE has been posting record performance figures of late, profit margins, especially in the refining sector, have fluctuated. An international evaluator to be tasked with evaluating the petroleum company should offer some clarity on ELPE’s price.

The government plan anticipates 500 million euros for the national budget in 2018 through the sale of the Greek State’s 35 percent stake in ELPE.