Socar willing to surrender over 17% to additional DESFA buyer

Azeri company Socar is willing to surrender more than 17 percent of its prospective equity share in DESFA, Greece’s gas grid operator, to fellow buyers, energypress has been informed.

Socar had initially agreed to acquire a 66 percent of DESFA, as the winning bidder of a tender, but the European Commission intervened, presumably over EU energy security and competition concerns, and demanded that the Azeri firm surrender 17 percent to other investors and settle for a 49 percent stake.

It now appears that the Azeri company, no longer in a position to secure a majority stake in DESFA, would not mind if fellow investors acquire 20 percent, or even  more, of DESFA, leaving it with an even lower stake than the 49 percent share.

Due diligence procedures, offering potential inverstors the right to audit DESFA before submitting their respective offers, begin today. Italy’s Snam and a consortium comprised of Belgium’s Fluxys, Spain’s Enagas, Belgian fund Margerit, and the Belgian federal state investment fund SFPI, are involved.

TAIPED, Greece’s State Privatizzation Fund, has already signed required confidentiality agreements with Snam and the Belgian-Spanish consortium.

The due diligence procedures are expected to be completed by the end of January.

The European Commission has ensured it will not delay its approval of the DESFA sale once Socar reaches an agreement with the additional buyer for the transfer of a 17 percent share, or more.

Marker sources have noted the maneuverings of the two additional buyers for a minority stake in DESFA are not restricted to investment interests but carry strategic interests as well.

Both Snam and the Belgian-Spanish consortium view their possible roles as DESFA stake holders as a gateway leading to further business activity and growth in southeast Europe. Fluxys and Enagas hold respective stakes of 19 percent and 16 percent in the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) consortium.