‘No ELPE sale Plan B’; workers want Latsis group to keep stake

There is no Plan B for the privatization of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), offering a 50.1 percent stake of the Greek petroleum firm, plus managerial rights, and the agreement reached with the country’s lenders will lead to new negotiations, from scratch, should the current sale procedure fail to produce results, energy ministry sources have informed in response to yesterday’s claims by union members of an alternative plan entailing a bourse placement of the Greek State’s stake if the sale, orchestrated by TAIPED, the state privatization fund, does not move on.

Members of PSEEP, the ELPE workers union, yesterday made a public appeal to the Latsis group, controlling a 45.47 percent of ELPE through Paneuropean Oil, to not contribute its stake to the sale. The Greek State currently holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE.

PSEEP union officials are expected to reiterate this appeal at a meeting they have requested with the Latsis group, whose intentions remain unclear.

Certain sources contend the Latsis group has offered its consent for the sale to proceed, following a request by the government, which has agreed to a specific privatization plan for ELPE.

Even so, it has become apparent that the Latsis group could re-examine its position should the current privatization plan by cancelled.

The ELPE sale effort, originally presented as a fast-track procedure to be completed in autumn, appears to have fallen well behind schedule.

Switzerland’s Glencore and Dutch enterprise Vitol, two of five first-round applicants, have been presented as the favorites to advance to the next round, but a short list of qualifiers has yet to be officially announced. A list of the three disqualified bids has been announced by the privatization fund.

The delayed delivery of the finalized list of qualifiers has been attributed to precautionary steps being taken by the privatization fund in order to avoid any reasons for legal action by the disqualified bidders. Such an outcome would further delay the sale.

It is believed that legal challenges are already being prepared by some of the disqualified bidders. Whatever the case, the submission of binding bids within July and the declaration of a winning bidder in autumn, as initially scheduled in the fast-track sale plan, both seem to have developed into impossible targets.