DESFA deadline stretched by late Greek-American interest

The late emergence of an unidentified Greek-American investor who has expressed an interest in acquiring a 66 percent of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, is believed to have convinced TAIPED, the state privatization fund, to offer an extension to the related tender’s deadline for non-binding offers, normally expiring today.

Sources noted that the Greek-American investor requested a deadline extension for the tender, essentially a relaunch following the collapse, late last year, of the country’s previous effort to sell an equivalent share of the operator.

TAIPED has set a new deadline for August 7, thereby granting the Greek-American investor some time to prepare a DESFA bid.

The extension offered is not connected to work being conducted by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for new DESFA surcharges to apply over the next four-year period, as was previously believed, sources assured.

Pundits contend that two investment teams will definitely submit bids for DESFA’s 66 percent. Belgium’s Fluxys and Dutch network operator Gasunie are seen teaming up for a joint offer, while Italy’s Snam, possibly backed by a fund, is also regarded as a certainty.

Snam also became involved in the initial unsuccessful DESFA tender, as a minority 17 percent partner of Azerbaijan’s Socar, the sale effort’s winning bidder.

It remains unknown whether Spain’s Enagas will make an offer. The company’s leadership, on the occasion of the recent release of DESFA’s first quarter results, noted that Enagas is closely following the developments at DESFA.

Italy’s Banca Imi has estimated that DESFA is worth 900 million euros. Factoring in the Greek operator’s net debt level, a 66 percent share would be worth approximately 494 million euros. It is believed that bidders will exceed the 400 million-euro amount offered by Socar in the initial tender.