Snam leadership expected in Athens to seal DESFA sale

The leadership of Italy’s Snam is expected in Athens for settlement of pending details and finalization of a long-running effort by Greece to sell 66 percent stake of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator.

The Italian operator is now believed set to acquire at least 30 percent of DESFA, well over the 17 percent originally planned.

Snam has apparently received consent from the Azerbaijani energy company Socar, the winning bidder, in 2013, of an international tender for 66 percent of DESFA at a price of 400 million euros. The European Commission later intervened and demanded that Socar surrender at least 17 percent as a means of keeping its stake in DESFA to no more than 49 percent. Snam then moved into the picture as a candidate for the surrendered amount.

The Greek government has made a series of revisions that make the DESFA sale more attractive for the prospective buyers following preceding energy ministry measures which limited the operator’s revenue potential.

According to sources, the buyers want to cover the 400 million-euro sale price over two or three installments, not as one lump sum. This request is not expected to prove an obstacle for the deal’s completion.

Socar kept the DESFA sale attempt alive last month after offering a last-minute extension to its expiring letter of guarantee, giving the negotiating sides until the end of October to reach a deal.