Greek State, Latsis group touching up ELPE deal with hydrocarbon issues

Hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation rights either already acquired by ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) or being sought, for blocks off Crete and in the Ionian Sea, are the focus of final-stage negotiations between the Greek State, represented by the government, and the Latsis corporate group aiming for a deal that will enable the sale, by the privatization fund, of a 51 percent stake and management rights of the petroleum firm to prospective buyers through an international tender.

The Greek State currently holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, controls a 45.47 percent stake.

Once the two sides reach a deal, seen happening any day now, according to pundits, then a 51 percent stake of ELPE will be offered to a strategic investor.

The two sides are believed to focusing on matters concerning how they will share future profits for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation agreements already signed by ELPE as well as blocks being targeted.

The issue is rather complicated as ELPE holds exclusive rights for certain blocks (Arta-Preveza, northwest Peloponnese) but is a member of various consortiums for all its other hydrocarbon interests.

ELPE and Italy’s Edison have established a 50-50 partnership for a Gulf of Patras block. It holds a 25 percent stake in Block 2 off Corfu. France’s Total holds a 50 percent stake in this venture and Edison controls the other 25 percent. ELPE also holds a 20 percent stake in a consortium that has submitted the only offers for two offshore blocks south and southwest of Crete. Total and Exxon Mobil each hold 40 percent stakes in these initiatives. Also, ELPE and Spain’s Repsol hold 50 percent stakes in an offer submitted for another Ionian Sea block.

Once the government and Latsis group have signed an agreement, TAIPED, the state privatization fund is expected to swiftly announce an international tender. Its terms are expected to shape the turnout of interested investors.

According to the revised bailout, the tender was supposed to have been announced by the end of March. It could be launched this month, barring unexpected developments.

ELPE’s share price has remained relatively steady at levels of between 7.8 and 8 euros over the past month or so despite its privatization prospects. Based on the share’s closing price yesterday, ELPE’s equity-based value is 2.39 billion euros, meaning a 51 percent stake may be estimated at 1.19 billion euros.