No further scheduling revisions are intended – at present – for the DEPA Trade privatization procedure, whose first-round deadline has already been reset for March 23, government officials have told energypress.
Officials at privatization fund TAIPED are concerned the coronavirus crisis could impact the sale and subdue bidding interest.
DEPA Trade was established as a new gas utility DEPA entity for the privatization, offering the Greek State’s 65 percent stake.
The DEPA Trade privatization procedure can move ahead as planned because the aforementioned deadline has already been extended once and is non-binding, the energy ministry has contended, adding extension requests are limited to a very small number of investors.
Essentially, the ministry, and government as a whole, are determined to avoid any sale delays as this would reinforce the picture of a halt in economic activity. The government sees the next fortnight as a crucial period for the coronoavirus preventive measures and economy.
Subdued interest by prospective bidders, including funds and consortiums, cannot be ruled out as Greece is still regarded as a high-risk market. These concerns also apply for the country’s two other upcoming major privatizations concerning DEPA Infrastructure and Athens International Airport.
A follow-up sale effort offering a stake in Hellenic Petroleum ELPE will only involve the Greek State, holding a 35.48 percent share of the petroleum company, while the Latsis Group’s Paneuropean Oil, the main shareholder with a 45.5 percent stake, has decided not to participate, reliable sources have informed energypress.
An initial ELPE sale attempt, in which the Greek State participated with 20 percent and Paneuropean Oil 30.1 for a concurrent sale offering 50.1 percent, failed to attract investors.
During his speech at the 84th Thessaloniki International Fair, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made clear the ELPE privatization is a top-priority sale along with the Greek State’s stakes in gas utility DEPA and Athens International Airport.
An official agreement between ELPE and the Latsis Group on the privatization is expected within days, the sources noted.
The two sides also appear to have agreed to dismantle an ELPE holding company whose assets include the petroleum firm’s hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses.
If so, prospective bidders ELPE bidders could hail from the upstream sector.
A soon-expected tender for DEPA Trade, one of two new entities emerging from a company split of gas utility DEPA, is planned to include terms ensuring equal treatment for all contenders, including Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, whose 35 percent stake in the gas utility will not offer the petroleum group an advantage over rival bidders.
All contenders expressing an interest for DEPA Trade’s 50.1 percent will receive equal treatment, according to the plan.
The sale model to be applied will be shaped in accordance with a plan adopted for the sale of a 30 percent stake of Athens International Airport, sources informed. Canada’s PSP Investments, holding a 40 stake of the Athens airport, is expected to participate in the DEPA Trade tender.
ELPE is expected to seek bolstering its current DEPA stake for a majority stake of DEPA Trade.
The DEPA Trade tender’s terms are now in the making for an anticipated launch of the sale around late May, following the European elections.
ELPE has disclosed it is currently involved in talks with Edison, its Italian business partner in Greece’s electricity market, for a possible joint bid in the DEPA Trade sale.
Meanwhile, a follow-up sale for ELPE’s 50.1 percent, following the recent failure of an initial sale effort, is not expected any time soon.