‘IPTO investor interest growing, DESFA sale to be finalized in 2016’

Strategic investor interest for a stake in the power grid operator IPTO is increasing while the range of contacts being made for the prospective sale is broadening, energy minister Panos Skourletis informed today.

Investors are displaying an interest in the operator’s earnings potential as well as opportunities for development of energy infrastructure projects in the wider region, the minister said.

Skourletis noted that the interest has grown compared to the number of investors who had considered acquiring a 66 percent stake of IPTO through a now-scrapped previous sale plan that had been forwarded by Greece’s previous administration. All interested parties are European-based, as is demanded in the sale’s terms, the minister said.

The current government’s plan entails transferring 51 percent of IPTO from the main power utility PPC, the operator’s parent company, to the Greek State by the end of June, followed by the placement of about 25 percent of the grid operator on the bourse and the sale of the rest to a strategic investor.

Skourletis, in his comments today, said the procedure for the sale of an IPTO stake to a strategic investor, which he believes will range between 20 and 24 percent, stands little chance, if any, of not progressing.

The energy minister also informed that the long-delayed finalization of a 66 percent sale of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, to Azerbaijan’s Socar, which will then need to surrender 17 percent to a European operator, as a result of European Commission intervention, would be completed by the end of this year.

Skourletis noted the DESFA sale’s outcome would be beneficial for all sides involved, while adding that the resulting extra natural gas costs for consumers would be minimal.

The minister described last week’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Greek refinery ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and Russia’s Rosneft as a favorable development, adding that solid Greek-Russian biltateral cooperation also exists in numerous domains beyond the energy sector.

ELPE will be supplied crude by the Russian petroleum company to be refined and shipped back to Russia as partial or full payment for the crude supplied.