DEPA privatization bill later this month with majority stakes for trade, networks

Gas utility DEPA privatization plan revisions will be forwarded to parliament later this month, instead of within the first few days, as was previously believed.

The DEPA revisions will be included in a draft bill to also feature an order detaching power utility PPC from public sector terms concerning competitive procedures. This combined move has played a role in the slight delay.

The bulk of DEPA’s revised privatization plan is ready but certain legal details still need to be completed. Also, TAIPED, the privatization fund, and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, need to be fully informed.

At this stage, it appears that majority stakes will be offered in DEPA’s trading and infrastructure interests, while the Greek State, now holding a 65 percent stake in the gas utility, will retain a majority stake in international projects.

This overall DEPA plan maintains energy ministry intentions unveiled in mid-September for the establishment of three divisions respectively representing trade, networks and international projects. It seems the government will probably sell the Greek State’s entire 65 percent stake concerning trade and networks.

Gov’t intends to sell Greek State’s entire 65% of DEPA

The recently elected conservative New Democracy government appears heavily inclined towards selling the Greek State’s entire 65 percent stake in gas utility DEPA through a procedure that would offer buyers majority stakes in both the utility’s trading and distribution interests.

“Nothing has yet been finalized, but the intentions indicate a sale of the entire 65 percent,” a reliable source told energypress.

Keeping a majority stake for the Greek State in the utility’s networks does not appear to be essential for the new government, as was the case with the preceding Syriza administration, unless a politically minded decision is made along the way.

A legislative amendment is expected to be completed within October before it is submitted to Greek Parliament at the end of that month.

The previous government’s plan entailed splitting DEPA into two new business entities, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, and offering investors a 50.1 percent stake of the former followed by a minority 14 percent share of the latter.

A privatization of the Greek State’s entire DEPA stake would represent a repeat of the gas grid operator DESFA sale, in which investors bought the Greek State’s entire 66 percent stake.

Considerable investor interest, local and foreign, is expected, especially in DEPA’s gas supply division.

Speaking just days ago at the Thessaloniki International Fair, Andreas Siamisiis, chief executive of Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, noted the petroleum group would seek a majority stake of the gas utility. The Mytilineos and Copelouzos groups have also expressed interest in public remarks.

Greek State ELPE stake could be sold within next 2 months

The government is pushing ahead with its plan to sell, through the bourse, part of the Greek State’s 35.48 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) in a procedure that is expected to swift and completed within November.

The sale’s consulting duo, National Bank and Goldman Sachs, has launched a related market test to identify interested parties through a book-building procedure.

The level of interest in the sale will determine the percentage of the Greek State’s ELPE stake to be offered to investors. At this stage, the government does not appear willing to disengage the Greek State from its entire 35.48 percent in the petroleum firm.

ELPE’s share has slid 6.4 percent over the past four days, from 9.11 euros to 8.52 euros.

The Latsis Group’s Paneuropean Oil, ELPE’s main shareholder with a 45.5 percent stake, has decided not to participate in the sale, sources have informed.

The two shareholders had joined forces to offer investors an overall 50.1 percent stake in ELPE last April, but the sale failed to procedure a result.

Prior to that sale attempt, the former Syriza government’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis secured a controlling 51 percent stake for the Greek State in Exploration Holding Company, to which all of ELPE’s hydrocarbon exploration and production licenses were transferred. The holding company’s role could change.

Follow-up ELPE sale effort to involve Greek State stake only

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.

Latsis group unlikely to take part in follow-up ELPE sale

The Latsis group, whose Paneuropean Oil is the main shareholder of Hellenic Petroleum ELPE with a 45.5 percent stake, appears unwilling to participate in a follow-up sale effort for ELPE with the Greek State, holding 35.5 percent of the petroleum company.

The Greek State had offered 20 percent and Paneuropean Oil 30.1 for a concurrent sale effort that failed to draw investors.

A refusal by the Latsis group to become involved in a second sale attempt would leave the government with two basic options – one, to offer the Greek State’s 35.5 share of ELPE through a tender; the other, to offer this stake through the bourse, either as one lump offering or a succession of smaller packages.

Pundits believe a gradual sale through the bourse would be the wrong way to go, contending it would amount to a discount offering.

If a sale through the bourse is eventually chosen, a one-off sale of the Greek State’s 35.5 percent appears the most probable course of action. However, none of the options have been ruled out. A final decision is still ahead. A new administration at ELPE was assembled just two days ago.

Ministry, TAIPED to meet for ELPE, DEPA Trade sales

The privatization fund TAIPED and the energy ministry plan to hold talks this week in an effort to clarify matters concerning the futures of the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and DEPA Trade privatizations.

The privatization plan for DEPA Trade, one of two new entities emerging from a split at gas utility DEPA, is still unclear and will be greatly shaped by the stance at ELPE, holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA.

A government-backed recruitment plan involving DEPA’s sub-contracted external associates is another factor holding back the DEPA Trade privatization, to offer investors a majority stake.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis is believed to have held meetings last week with the administrations of DEPA subsidiaries to request swift recruitment procedures for these external associates by the end of the current month.

Matters concerning the DEPA business plan as well as the division of DEPA’s cash reserves to DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure, the other new entity emerging from the company split, appear to have been finalized.

TAIPED could launch the DEPA Trade privatization by the end of this month if ELPE’s role is clarified soon, sources noted.

An initial ELPE privatization effort, offering investors a 50.1 percent share, failed to produce a result and has impacted the DEPA sale. The country’s lenders have requested alternatives from the privatization fund.

The Latsis group’s Paneuropean Oil contributed 30.1 percent of its 45.47 ELPE stake to the initial sale effort. The Greek State offered 20 percent of its 35.48 percent share in ELPE.

ELPE has expressed an interest in DEPA Trade. The petroleum group is waiting for the sale’s terms to be finalized before it decides on whether to increase ELPE’s 35 percent stake in the natural gas company or sell its share and withdraw.

 

 

ELPE ownership decisions to be sought in coming days

The uncertainty concerning the next steps to be taken for the future ownership of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) could become clearer this week as the country’s lender representatives pursue their post-bailout review in Athens.

The position to be adopted by the lenders on ELPE will be particularly important on how the matter plays out. They could insist on a privatization repeat for ELPE’s 50.1 percent following the initial effort’s failure to produce a result. If so, a relaunch would not take place until after this month’s European elections, and, almost certainly, the Greek elections, due in autumn.

Attracting investors during the pre-election period would be difficult to accomplish. ELPE’s privatization is not a market restructuring measure but is purely driven by cash-collecting incentives.

The Latsis group, whose Paneuropean Oil contributed 30.1 percent of its 45.47 ELPE stake to the initial sale effort, wants to hold on to its stake in the listed petroleum company, according to sources. The Greek State offered 20 percent of its 35.48 percent share in the ELPE sale.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has ruled out the possibility of any sale of the Greek State’s ELPE stake through the bourse.

The sooner ELPE’s future ownership is cleared up the easier it will become for authorities to push ahead with the privatization of DEPA Trade, one of two new entities that emerged from a recent split at gas utility DEPA. ELPE holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA.

The petroleum group, which has made clear its interest for a bigger role in Greece’s natural gas market, may seek to increase its DEPA stake.

All ELPE options, including no sale, to be considered, minister notes

All options, except for a sale of the Greek State’s share in ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) through the bourse, will be considered following last week’s failed sale attempt through a tender offering a 50.1 percent stake of the petroleum group, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has noted.

Decisions will be made at a future date following talks with the country’s lenders and the Latsis group, whose Paneuropean Oil contributed 30.1 percent of its 45.47 stake to the tender, the minister noted. The Greek State was offering 20 percent of its 35.48 percent share.

The possibilities include dropping the ELPE privatization all together as this sale is not a structural measure or market revision but was added to the privatization fund TAIPED’s program for cash-collecting purposes, the minister explained.

Stathakis admitted he was expecting at least one worthwhile bid from the sale’s two bidding teams.

ELPE’s total worth could reach between 5 and 7 billion euros based on international business practices estimating the market value of companies by multiplying EBITDA results several times, the minister said.

Meanwhile, TAIPED is preparing to soon launch a tender offering a majority stake in DEPA Trade, a new entity emerging from a recent split of gas utility DEPA, the minister informed.

ELPE, holding a 35 percent stake in DEPA, has expressed interest in this sale as part of its plan for a natural gas market entry.

ELPE privatization effort fails to deliver result, next step unclear

A tender offering a 50.1 percent stake of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), whose complicated make-up involved two sellers and four possible buyers, has failed to produce a result.

The Greek State was offering 20 percent of its 35.48 percent share and the Latsis group’s Paneuropean Oil 30.1 percent of its 45.47 stake.

As officials had strongly suspected ahead of yesterday’s deadline for binding bids, the sale procedure did not convince participants for a variety of reasons.

In the lead-up, SPA and SHA term negotiations with the sale’s main candidates Glencore and Vitol, both trading firms, made clear that emphasis needed to be placed on protecting the association between ELPE’s main activity, refining, and the domestic market. The petroleum group currently covers approximately 70 percent of the Greek market’s needs.

Glencore, which was eventually joined by US firm Carlyle for this sale, had other ideas. During the SPA talks, it strove for the incorporation of a term that would have offered the trading company exclusive control of ELPE’s production.

Instead, clauses were introduced to the tender’s SPA to protect supply to the Greek market and maintain the country’s strategic reserves for security reasons.

This development prompted the sale’s officials to place their hopes for a result on the privatization’s other second-round qualifier, Dutch trading firm Vitol, which was latter joined by Algeria’s Sonatrach.

The Algerian state-run energy company proved to be the more interested partner of this pairing, but the political turmoil over recent weeks in Algeria, which led to the resignation earlier this week of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the country’s leader over the past 20 years, prevented Sonatrach from pursuing what would have been the biggest takeover in the company’s history.

It remains to be seen how the government and TAIPED, the privatization fund, will respond to the sale’s failure. TAIPED had anticipated a significant inflow of privatization revenues from the ELPE sale.

 

Binding bids for ELPE’s 50.1% due today amid uncertainty

Binding bids for an ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) sale offering a 50.1 percent stake are due today, bringing one of the country’s biggest energy-sector privatizations to a crucial stage.

The Greek State is offering 20 percent of its 35.48 percent share and the Latsis group’s Paneuropean Oil is selling 30.1 percent of its 45.47 stake.

Two bidding teams have reached the privatization’s final stage. Glencore, an early qualifier, has teamed up with US firm Carlyle, while Vitol, the procedure’s other early candidate, formed an alliance with Algeria’s Sonatrach for this sale.

Their level of acceptance of the sale’s SPA and SHA terms, as well as ELPE’s financial figures, assessed in due dilligence, will become apparent later in the day.

Despite today’s bidding deadline, it still remains uncertain if the two teams will submit offers. If made, they will be unveiled later this afternoon, at 5pm.  Dossiers carrying technical details will be opened for assessment over the next few days.

Improved bids could be called for if the privatization’s terms have been met by participants.

Should the current sale effort fail to produce a result, the government will need to engage in talks with the country’s lenders on the next move for the ELPE privatization.

PPC, State blamed for power market’s competition rut

Independent electricity producer and supplier representatives participating in yesterday’s Power & Gas Supply Forum in Athens have attributed the lack of progress in an ongoing effort to fully liberalize Greece’s electricity market to a lack of political will and a variety of decisions that have helped the state-controlled main power utility PPC maintain its dominant market position.

“Neither the State nor PPC want the market to be opened up,” Dinos Benroubi, the Mytilineos group’s energy division chief, one of many highly-ranked officials representing independent electricity producers and suppliers at yesterday’s event, told the forum.

His comments sum up complaints expressed by various officials who sought to explain why the domestic electricity market has been unable to truly open up to competition, despite years of related legislative amendments and private-sector investments in the energy domain.

PPC has continued to maintain a culture of tolerance that has enabled customers to avoid repercussions for not paying bills on time, which, by extension, has stopped PPC from servicing its required payments to the market, Benroubi pointed out.

“Competitors can’t attract new customers amid market conditions such as these,” the Mytilineos group official supported.

Remarks offered by the Heron energy company’s Giorgos Kouvaris were just as scathing. “Our market is appropriately designed to not be able to open up under any government. Any investors who have moved against the market [forces] have suffered bad outcomes,” Kouvaris noted.

Unfair burdens persevered by electricity producers as a result of various market distortions; an inconsistent regulatory framework affecting investments; lack of competition in electricity production; and the failure of PPC’s pricing policy to reflect costs, were among other factors cited by forum participants as problems obstructing the market from opening up.

 

ELFE judicial administration, liquidation options considered

The government is considering two insolvency procedures for debt-laden ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals), one being judicial administration, the other compulsory liquidation, based on the country’s bankruptcy law.

Both options were mentioned in parliament just days ago by two leading government officials, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis and Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris, but neither of the two offered any further details.

ELFE’s debt of 120 million euros owed to gas utility DEPA is complicating the utility’s privatization plan being pursued by the government and TAIPED, the privatization fund.

If a judicial administration procedure is to be pursued, then one of the troubled company’s creditors will need to take legal action at a Court of First Instance in Kavala, northern Greece, where the firm is headquartered, and request that the producer be placed under judicial administration. DEPA will need to come into the picture here.

If a compulsory liquidation procedure is to be chosen, then an investor that may be interested in taking over the company will need to be found. In this case, ELFE’s creditors, which besides DEPA, include banks, PPC and others, will need to agree on a debt haircut.

Meanwhile, disclosures are abounding as to how Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, a failed businessman who acquired ELFE in 2009, manipulated a variety of associated firms that emerged from 2015 – and were tolerated by the government – to run down the fertilizer and chemicals producer and render it incapable of servicing its mountain of debt.

Details of legal action taken by Alpha Bank against ELFE in 2016 for a 15.1 million-euro loan extended in 2008, with the Greek State as the guarantor, were submitted to parliament for discussion last Friday by the main opposition New Democracy party. ELFE has failed to service this loan.

 

DESFA buyers agreement soon, RAE certification the sale’s final step

An endorsement by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy of the winning bidding scheme’s offer in an international tender offering a 66 percent stake of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, paves the way for the signing of a shareholders agreement, which, according to sources, could take place by the end of this week at the state privatization fund TAIPED’s Athens headquarters.

An all-European investment team comprising Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagás Internacional and Belgium’s Fluxys emerged as the tender’s winning bidder last summer with a 535 million-euro offer.

Once the shareholders agreement has been signed, RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, will need to offer its certification for the new owners. This step, the last in the overall sale procedure, is expected soon.

This privatization effort, which has so far lasted over five years, was launched in 2013 with an unfinished initial tender won by Azerbaijan’s Socar.

The Greek State, offering 31 percent of DESFA’s 66 percent being sold, stands to receive 251.3 million euros of the 535 million-euro total. ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), selling the other 35 percent, will receive 283.7 million euros.

The Snam-Enagás-Fluxys team will be entitled to appoint six of the new DESFA board’s eleven members, the Greek State, to hold a 34 percent stake of the gas grid operator, will be given three board seats, while a further two board members will be appointed based on agreements between the Greek State and the investors.

The Greek State, which will reserve the right to appoint the board’s president, will also hold veto rights for matters such as capital increases and international projects.

The incoming investment team will not be permitted to operate other rival ventures in Greece, will be expected to carry out a 330 million-euro investment program, and will not be able to transfer shares to third parties during the first two-year period and until the investment program has been completed.

 

PPC, Greek State arrears deal to offer latter 25% discount

The main power utility PPC has reached a deal with the Greek State for the settlement of electricity consumption arrears owed by the latter as well as reduced tariffs to be offered by the utility for civil sector electricity consumption in the current year.

According to sources, the Greek State has already paid PPC a sum of between 60 and 65 million euros, which covers roughly half the 120 million-euro total owed to the power utility.

The outstanding Greek State amount, concerning various public sector divisions, is expected to be delivered once details concerning each individual debtor have been inspected and verified.

The power utility and the finance ministry, representing the Greek State, also agreed on an advance payment for consumption in 2018 in exchange for reduced tariffs. This arrangement will also provide some cash flow relief to the power utility.

Besides a 15 percent discount offered by PPC to all punctual customers and a 6 percent discount offered to customers making advance payments, the Greek State will also benefit from a discount offered to industrial consumers for major-scale electricity consumption.

The arrangement agreed to will offer the Greek State a total discount of around 25 to 26 percent.

This means that the Greek State will be expected to make an advance payment of approximately 480 million euros for consumption in 2018, based on its consumption level in 2017.

 

Greek State to keep 36.25% of ELPE’s hydrocarbon rights

The Greek State is expected to maintain a 36.25 percent share of ELPE’s (Hellenic Petroleum) hydrocarbon interests, close its current overall stake held in the petroleum company, following the sale of a 50.1 percent share to be offered to strategic investors through an agreement with co-shareholder Paneuropean Oil.

The Greek State currently holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, controls a 45.47 percent stake.

A new holding company is expected to be formed to host ELPE’s various hydrocarbon ventures, including one representing the Greek State’s 36.25 percent share, as well as companies currently holding exploration and production licenses for various blocks around Greece. These include Arta-Preveza, northwest Peloponnese, the Gulf of Patras, as well as the Ionian Sea’s Block 2, west of Corfu.

Just days ago, the Greek State and the Latsis corporate group reached an agreement to offer a 50.1 percent share of ELPE to a strategic investor.

Now that this agreement has been reached by the co-shareholders, TAIPED, the state privatization fund, is expected to announce an international tender within the next ten days. The sale procedure could be completed by the end of this year, according to the privatization fund.

ELPE sale deal struck, state boosts its hydrocarbon interests

The Greek State, represented by the government, and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, co-shareholders of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), have reached a deal to sell at least 50.1 percent of ELPE through an international tender, ELPE has announced in a statement.

The Greek State currently holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil controls a 45.47 percent stake.

TAIPED, the state privatization fund controlling the Greek State’s 35.5 percent share, will offer a stake of at least 20 percent, while Paneuropean Oil will provide the other 30.1 percent, as an absolute minimum, the ELPE statement noted, adding that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed.

The agreement’s text details the future management roles of the two shareholders at ELPE, veto rights, the dividend policy, disinvestments and strategy.

However, ELPE’s hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation interests appear to have been handled separately, giving the Greek State a reinforced role regarding its rights in this division, seen as one of national security, as it has to do with control of hydrocarbon deposits and geopolitical issues.

The Greek State’s stronghold of ELPE’s hydrocarbon interests, including increased future revenues from this domain, will be factored in by prospective buyers and, quite obviously, promises to lower the eventual sale price.

Sources noted that the international tender could be announced this month as a swift follow-up to the agreement between the Greek State and Paneuropean Oil.

ELPE’s share price stood at 7.8 euros at the close of yesterday’s session, giving the firm an equity-based value of 2.38 billion euros. This means that a 50 percent share of ELPE would be worth 1.19 billion euros, based on the current share price. This figure, however, is not a true reflection of ELPE’s value as the sale will also include the enterprise’s management rights, which will provide a premium.

Greek State, Latsis group touching up ELPE deal with hydrocarbon issues

Hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation rights either already acquired by ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) or being sought, for blocks off Crete and in the Ionian Sea, are the focus of final-stage negotiations between the Greek State, represented by the government, and the Latsis corporate group aiming for a deal that will enable the sale, by the privatization fund, of a 51 percent stake and management rights of the petroleum firm to prospective buyers through an international tender.

The Greek State currently holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, controls a 45.47 percent stake.

Once the two sides reach a deal, seen happening any day now, according to pundits, then a 51 percent stake of ELPE will be offered to a strategic investor.

The two sides are believed to focusing on matters concerning how they will share future profits for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation agreements already signed by ELPE as well as blocks being targeted.

The issue is rather complicated as ELPE holds exclusive rights for certain blocks (Arta-Preveza, northwest Peloponnese) but is a member of various consortiums for all its other hydrocarbon interests.

ELPE and Italy’s Edison have established a 50-50 partnership for a Gulf of Patras block. It holds a 25 percent stake in Block 2 off Corfu. France’s Total holds a 50 percent stake in this venture and Edison controls the other 25 percent. ELPE also holds a 20 percent stake in a consortium that has submitted the only offers for two offshore blocks south and southwest of Crete. Total and Exxon Mobil each hold 40 percent stakes in these initiatives. Also, ELPE and Spain’s Repsol hold 50 percent stakes in an offer submitted for another Ionian Sea block.

Once the government and Latsis group have signed an agreement, TAIPED, the state privatization fund is expected to swiftly announce an international tender. Its terms are expected to shape the turnout of interested investors.

According to the revised bailout, the tender was supposed to have been announced by the end of March. It could be launched this month, barring unexpected developments.

ELPE’s share price has remained relatively steady at levels of between 7.8 and 8 euros over the past month or so despite its privatization prospects. Based on the share’s closing price yesterday, ELPE’s equity-based value is 2.39 billion euros, meaning a 51 percent stake may be estimated at 1.19 billion euros.

Greek State, Latsis group working on 3 issues for ELPE agreement

Though the government, as the Greek State’s representative, and the Latsis corporate group, co-shareholders of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), are expected to sign an agreement early next week that will enable TAIPED, the state privatization fund, to offer a 51 percent stake and management rights of the petroleum firm to prospective buyers through an international tender, three issues are still being discussed.

The Greek State, which currently holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, which controls a 45.47 percent stake, are holding continual talks to resolve these matters.

The two sides need to decide on their managerial roles, as prospective minority shareholders. They must also agree on how many members of the new board they will eeach be entitled to appoint. Their future veto rights also need to be determined.

The Greek State and Paneuropean Oil plan to each retain respective 15 percent stakes in ELPE, meaning the former will offer approximately 20 percent of its existing 35.5 percent stake and Paneuropean Oil will offer about 30 percent of its 45.47 percent stake.

Once the two sides have signed an agreement, TAIPED will be able to immediately announce an international tender. Its terms are expected to shape the turnout of interested investors.

Greek State, Latsis group nearing deal on ELPE’s 51% to be sold

An agreement between the government, as the Greek State’s representative, and the Latsis corporate group that would offer prospective buyers a 51 percent stake of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) plus managerial rights appears to be just days away.

The Greek State holds a 35.5 percent stake of ELPE and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, controls a 45.47 percent stake.

The negotiating sides have been engaged in a continuous stream of meetings over the past couple of days and are now believed to be discussing final details. One of these concerns whether either of the two sides will maintain the right to appoint board members following the sale of ELPE’s 51 percent.

The Greek State and Paneuropean Oil plan to each retain respective 15 percent stakes in ELPE, meaning the former will offer approximately 20 percent of its existing 35.5 percent stake and Paneuropean Oil will offer about 30 percent of its 45.47 percent stake.

Once the two sides have signed an agreement, TAIPED, the state privatization fund, will be able to immediately announce an international tender. Its terms are expected to shape the turnout of interested investors.

Insiders have explained that media claims pinpointing prospective investors do not reflect reality as nobody knows anything about the tender’s terms. An indicative picture of the truly interested parties will only be formed once the international tender’s terms have been specified and announced, pundits support.

According to Greek bailout terms, ELPE’s privatization procedure is scheduled to commence within March. With the month now just about through, an April launch is expected.

As for the sale’s price tag, a variety of figures have been aired of late. Insiders have kept a distance from various estimates evaluating the firm at a total of between 5 and 6 billion euros, based on its financial performance last year, which translates into a price of between 2.5 and 3 billion euros for the firm’s 51 percent. Pundits believe that prospective investors, given the current market conditions, would hold back their interest if such price levels are demanded.

At the other end, ELPE’s current equity value of 2.42 billion euros, based on yesterday’s share closing price at the Athens Stock Exchange, may not reflect the enterprise’s actual worth as the bourse index is currently subdued. However, this low level will be taken into consideration by investors when the time arrives for decisions to be made, insiders have pointed out.

Though ELPE’s recent streak of record-breaking figures cannot be disputed, petroleum industry profit margins, especially in the refining sector, have been unstable. An international evaluator to be tasked with evaluating the petroleum company should offer some clarity on the price level of ELPE’s 51 percent stake and management rights to be sold.