Kavala UGS privatization delay, DEPA Commercial sale on hold

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north has, once again, been postponed for a latter date, according to the privatization fund’s updated asset development plan.

The deadline for this UGS privatization’s binding bids will be reset for the final quarter of the year, possibly in October or November, after being planned for May or June, sources informed.

A number of issues are delaying the privatization’s completion. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, still needs to issue a pricing framework that will determine pricing details concerning the use of the UGS, the privatization fund informed.

Also, the fund is awaiting an EU regulation concerning compulsory gas storage requirements for member states, so that it may be included in the UGS project’s cost-benefit analysis.

In addition, a dispute between gas grid operator DESFA and RAE over the South Kavala UGS project’s accompanying projects is another obstacle preventing the tender’s continuation.

Elsewhere, in another major energy-sector privatization, gas company DEPA Commercial’s privatization appears to have been put on hold, indefinitely, as TAIPED, the privatization fund, in its update, noted alternatives need to be considered as a result of international developments and legal issues, a reference to the gas company’s ongoing legal battle with fertilizer producer ELFE.

ELFE is seeking compensation from DEPA, claiming overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015, while DEPA has filed a legal case seeking overdue amounts from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece.

DEPA Commercial’s privatization has remained stagnant at the binding-bids stage for over a year.

 

South Kavala UGS facing delay, war prompts need for cost-benefit update

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north appears set for a latter date as authorities believe the project’s cost-benefit analysis needs to be updated as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

TAIPED was aiming to stage the tender’s second round late in May, but officials at the energy ministry and RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, believe the UGS project’s cost-benefit analysis now needs to be updated.

More specifically, at current gas price levels, it would cost 500 million euros to fill the UGS with gas, once its conversion from a depleted gas field has been completed. The conversion’s cost is also estimated at 500 million euros, meaning a total sum of one billion euros would currently be required to develop and fill the facility.

The project’s existing cost-benefit analysis, based on data prior to the war, is now out for consultation. It has already received two extensions.

It remains unknown if a recent European Commission decision requiring EU member states to maintain gas reserves representing 15 percent of annual consumption will be restricted to the war’s duration or become a permanent obligation.

Also, the project’s reexamination will most probably also need to take into account related domestic developments such as a plan for a gas network capacity increase.

 

South Kavala UGS tender’s final round not until early summer

The final round of privatization fund TAIPED’s tender for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north will not be held until early this summer following a latest deadline extension by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on consultation regarding the facility’s business pricing framework, sources closely following the project’s developments have informed energypress.

Prior to this deadline extension, the overall procedure was delayed by several months as a result of a disagreement between RAE and gas grid operator DESFA over supplementary investments that would enable the country’s grid to cater to the needs of the UGS.

Consultation for UGS pricing framework proposals and other details, including DESFA’s ten-year development plan, was to expire on March 14, but RAE has offered participants an extension until March 30.

It is believed RAE’s text forwarded for consultation has been deemed far from satisfactory by prospective investors. If no changes are made, the tender could fail to produce a result, despite its long duration.

Such a prospect threatens to leave Greece as Europe’s only country without a single UGS for many years to come.

Elsewhere, EU member states are rushing to fill their UGS facilities ahead of next winter, following an order issued by the European Commission as part of a plan to drastically reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.

The EU has a total of 170 UGS facilities, offering a total capacity of 4.2 trillion cubic metres. Germany tops the list with 60 facilities that represent 42 percent of the continent’s UGS capacity. France follows with 16 UGS facilities, Italy has 13 functional facilities and 7 under construction, while Romania has 8 UGS facilities and Bulgaria one.

 

 

DEPA Commercial sale held up by legal battle with ELPE, crisis

Though gas company DEPA Commercial was vindicated in an Athens Court of Appeal verdict over an overpricing case filed by fertilizer industry ELFE for gas consumption between 2010 and 2015, the gas company’ privatization remains trapped as ELFE has responded by announcing it will take the legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court.

ELFE is seeking a compensation amount of 302 million euros. An initial court decision delivered in 2019 had awarded the fertilizer producer a 91 million-euro amount, which, however, was cancelled out by the latest court ruling, issued yesterday.

The ongoing legal dispute, which, in the end, could vindicate ELFE, is a concern for DEPA Commercial, as a legal defeat would prompt other industrial customers to take overcharging legal action against the gas company.

Besides the ongoing legal dispute with ELFE, another major factor holding up DEPA Commercial’s privatization is the government’s hesitation to sell amid the ongoing energy crisis. The government is awaiting market normalization, beyond the crisis, before it takes further steps in the DEPA Commercial sale.

Italgas’ DEPA Infrastructure deal to be finalized late March

The sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, acquired by Italgas, Italy’s biggest natural gas distribution company and the third largest in Europe, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of the year, energypress sources closely monitoring the procedure have informed.

Final sale procedures will have been completed towards the end of March, enabling Italgas to make its payment, an amount of 733 million euros, the sources noted.

The competition committee needs to approve the sales and purchase agreement, signed between the buyer and two sellers, privatization fund TAIPED and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE, on December 10, 2021.

RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, also needs to issue necessary certification for the acquisition, but the competition committee’s approval is a prerequisite for this stage.

The acquisition will be fully completed once Italgas also purchases purchase gas distributor EDA THESS’s 49 percent stake held by Italy’s Eni gas e Luce, wanting to sell. This follow-up purchase of the EDA THESS stake has been set as a condition for Italgas, the winning bidder.

DEPA Infrastructure, EDA THESS’s parent company, holds a 51 percent stake in the gas distributor covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas, while Eni gas e Luce, holds 49 percent.

The overall sum expected to be spent by Italgas for DEPA Infrastructure and EDA THESS’s 49 percent stake is expected to reach 940 million euros.

Then, Copelouzos group subsidiary Faethon is expected to enter DEPA Infrastructure with a stake seen ranging between 10 and 20 percent

Italgas and the Copelouzos group had reached a related agreement on this minority-stake arrangement prior to the DEPA Infrastructure tender.

RAE close to decision on Kavala UGS pricing regulations

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is preparing to decide on business pricing regulations for a prospective underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, a step that would pave the way for the second round of binding offers in an ongoing privatization offering contracts for the development and operation of the facility.

The facility’s pricing regulations are scheduled to be discussed at a RAE board meeting this Thursday, sources informed.

The authority may opt to not take a final decision on the pricing regulations during this session and instead announce a preceding public consultation procedure of brief duration, between one and two weeks, to take into account the resulting feedback and then decide on the pricing regulation details, the sources added.

A gas grid operator DESFA and GEK TERNA partnership, as well as Energean Oil & Gas have advanced to the second round of the project’s tender staged by privatization fund TAIPED.

According to a previous RAE decision, 50 percent of the project’s cost will be passed on to gas network users. As for the other 50 percent, 35 percent is expected to be covered through EU funding, assuming the project is included on the EU’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, while the remaining 15 percent will be taken on by the eventual investor.

Legislative revision ends saga for sale of PPC 17% stake

Power utility PPC’s long-running saga concerning the privatization of a 17 percent stake has ended following a legislative amendment submitted by the finance ministry to facilitate the process.

The step was supposed to have been taken in 2012, during the country’s first bailout agreement. The then-government ran out of time and ended up transferring the 17 percent stake to privatization fund TAIPED in 2014.

Two years later, in 2016, EESYP, the super privatization fund, was established, to which the Greek State transferred the other 34 percent stake it held in PPC.

From that period onwards, a variety of scenarios concerning the sale of PPC’s 17 percent came and went, covering the entire period of Greek bailouts.

In the post-bailout era, the current government wanted PPC, following its financial restructuring, to play a leading role in the energy transition. As a result, last autumn, a decision was made to proceed with an equity capital raise at PPC that would result in a total stake reduction to 34 percent for the two privatization funds, TAIPED and EESYP.

The recent equity capital raise resulted in EESYP, the super privatization fund, having a PPC stake of 23.8 percent stake, down from 34 percent, and TAIPED, the other privatization fund, having a 10.32 percent stake, down from 17 percent.

 

DEPA Commercial privatization decision expected in January

A decision on whether to defer the final binding-bids stage in the 100 percent privatization of gas company DEPA Commercial is not expected until January, according to sources. Officials are delaying the progress of this sale fearing negative impact that could stem from the energy crisis and an unresolved legal dispute between the gas company and fertilizer industry ELFE.

The country’s privatization fund TAIPED is waiting to see how the government decides to move ahead on a number of issues, and is also awaiting the stance of ELPE (Greek Petroleum), which holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA Commercial, before reaching a decision, the sources noted. TAIPED controls the Greek State’s 65 percent share of DEPA Commercial.

Though the legal dispute between DEPA and ELFE could drag on for months, the DEPA Commercial sale has not been put on hold as authorities are pursuing a solution, according to TAIPED sources.

ELFE is seeking compensation from DEPA, contending the gas company overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015, while DEPA has filed a case seeking overdue amounts from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece.

On the other front, ELPE is likely to seek to sell its 35 percent share of DEPA Commercial regardless of what the government and TAIPED decide to do with their 65 percent share, sources informed.

One alternative being contemplated is to divide DEPA Commercial so as to enable the sale of subsidiary gas supplier Fysiko Aerio Elladas. Another possibility examined by TAIPED is to list DEPA Commercial on the Athens Stock Exchange, though this is seen as highly unlikely given the insecurity the ongoing ELFE legal case would cause among investors.

DEPA Infrastructure sale to Italgas nearing completion

The sale procedure for DEPA Infrastructure, acquired by Italgas, Italy’s biggest natural gas distribution company and the third largest in Europe, is now nearing completion, with its sales and purchase agreement expected to be signed within the next few days.

The agreement was forwarded to the inspection committee on October 26 and approved a fortnight later. Once the SPA is signed all financial aspects of the agreement are expected to be completed by early 2022 as Italgas will need to be certified by RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, and receive necessary approvals from the competition committee.

Italgas emerged as the winning bidder in a tender offering 100 percent of DEPA Infrastructure with an offer that exceeded the most optimistic of expectations to reach 733 million euros.

The 100 percent privatization of DEPA Infrastructure comprises 100 percent of gas distributor EDA Attiki, covering the wider Athens area; 100 percent of gas distributor DEDA, representing all other areas in Greece except for Thessaloniki and Thessaly; as well as a 51 percent stake in gas distributor EDA THESS, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas.

Italgas has announced, as part of its strategic plan for 2021 to 2027, an investment plan totaling 7.5 billion euros, the aim being to reinforce the natural gas distribution network’s strategic role in the decarbonization procedure.

Italgas, whose roots stretch back 180 years, operates 70,000 kilometers of distribution networks in Italy, servicing over 1,800 municipalities.

Gas network upgrade cost in north crucial for UGS sustainability

The cost of reinforcing the gas network in northern Greece, a key component to the financial sustainability of a project entailing the development of an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, has been discussed at an energy ministry meeting involving officials of RAE, the Regulatory Authority of Energy, gas grid operator DESFA and the privatization fund TAIPED.

Officials are seeking full clarity on the level of investments needed for the gas network in northern Greece so that natural gas can be transported to and from the prospective UGS.

According to DESFA, the country’s gas grid operator, northern Greece’s gas network now requires an upgrade as the prospect of a UGS facility was completely unanticipated when the region’s grid was initially designed and developed.

DESFA-GEK TERNA and Energean Oil & Gas have advanced to the second round of a project tender staged by TAIPED.

DEPA Commercial sale on hold over crisis, ELFE case concerns

The government appears likely to defer the final binding-bids stage in the 100 percent privatization of gas company DEPA Commercial, fearing negative impact as a result of the energy crisis, and also taking into account an unresolved legal dispute between the gas company and fertilizer industry ELFE.

The government wants, for the time being, to keep control of DEPA Commercial as part of its defense effort against the energy crisis’ price surge.

Three weeks earlier, the finance and energy ministers announced that state-controlled DEPA Commercial would absorb 15 percent of natural gas price increases as part of the government’s effort to soften the effect of the energy crisis on consumers.

The gas company’s unsettled legal dispute with ELFE, the fertilizer industry, is the other major factor behind the government’s hesitation to press ahead with the final stage of DEPA Commercial’s privatization.

The government will not move on to the final stage of the DEPA Commercial privatization until the gas company’s dispute with ELFE is over, sources informed.

ELFE is seeking compensation from DEPA, contending the gas company overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015, while DEPA has filed a case seeking overdue amounts from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece.

Late November biding-bid tender deadlines for Larco privatization

Officials intend to set late November binding-bid deadlines to two tenders concerning the privatization of financially pressured state-controlled nickel producer Larco, a delayed procedure whose completion was initially planned for the first half of this year.

The deadline dates for the two tenders will be set within days of each other, government sources have informed.

Greek officials are pushing ahead with the privatization procedure following pressure from the European Commission, which has informed that the sale needs to be completed soon if the government is to avoid hefty penalties for illegal state aid offered to the nickel producer.

Also, officials appear to have decided to dismiss the nickel producer’s 1,100 or so workers, according to the sources, while the labor ministry is currently looking for fund support to cover their compensation packages.

The privatization’s first of two tenders concerns the transfer of mines in Evia, Fthiotida, Viotia (Agios Ioannis area) and Kastoria, ore stocks, by-products and recyclable materials as well as plots of rural land.

The second tender concerns the privatization of the Larymna smelting plant, the Larymna and Loutsi mines and relevant mining rights and other assets owned by the Greek State and currently leased to Larco.

Three of six initial candidates remain in the running – GEK TERNA, MYTILINEOS and COMMODITY & MINING INSIGHT IRELAND LIMITED.

Major investment interest in PPC equity capital increase

Power utility PPC’s equity capital increase, planned for late October, is expected to attract over one billion euros, in excess of the 750 million-euro amount initially announced, strong interest by foreign institutional investors, including major US interest, as well as dozens of meetings lined up for the coming weeks with potential participants, has indicated.

The next fortnight or so is expected to be filled with non-business news concerning PPC’s equity capital increase, the related topics to include discussion on possible participants, as well as political debate over the equity capital increase, effectively a partial privatization that will result in a decrease of privatization fund TAIPED’s current stake in the company from 51 percent to 34 percent.

The development promises to free the utility from restrictions imposed on state-controlled companies, boost its finances and enable the company to further consolidate its position as the dominant market player. Small and big energy players are expected to be impacted by the PPC move. Talk of takeovers is already brewing.

The equity capital increase, along with PPC’s not-yet-finalized sale of a 49 percent stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary, to Australian fund Macquarie for 2.116 billion euros, will offer crucial financial support for PPC’s 8.5 billion-euro investment plan covering the next five years. Green energy production and ventures abroad are the plan’s key objectives.

PPC chooses FMO for equity capital increase, more potential

Power utility PPC’s equity capital increase, announced last Friday, will be staged as a free market offer (FMO) procedure with accelerated book building, meaning that the discount at which the equity capital increase will be held will be determined by the offers to be submitted to the issue’s book.

Also, PPC will be able to announce a bigger equity capital increase should oversubscription be achieved.

The administration’s decision to opt for an FMO procedure rather than a customary method of pre-determined prices is expected to create competition among participants, which could produce a better result, both in terms of the discount and funds to be drawn, officials explained.

PPC will be able to revise, upwards, its 750 million-euro equity capital increase if the procedure is oversubscribed, the officials added.

The power utility’s administration began talks with prospective participants of the equity capital increase last Friday and will continue these talks until the end of October, when the book building procedure will commence.

PPC is aiming to attract 750 million euros. The procedure will result in a decrease of privatization fund TAIPED’s current stake in the company from 51 percent to 34 percent.

 

 

PPC planning equity capital increase, big funds involved

Power utility PPC will proceed with a 750 million-euro equity capital increase, effectively a partial privatization coming twenty years after a previous round at the bourse that will result in a decrease of privatization fund TAIPED’s current stake in the company from 51 percent to 34 percent.

The company administration’s step back for a minority share, plus management, aims to maximize the participation of foreign institutional investors, who, along with local investors, are expected to easily cover the equity capital increase’s financial demands.

US, British and northern European funds are among the interested parties, private talks held over the past six months, at least, have indicated, energypress sources informed.

Blackrock, EBRD, Fidelity, Apollo, Carmignac, Twenty Four AM, Bluecrest, Pictet, Union Investments, Sona Asset Management, Barings, Aperture, Saba Capital and Vontobel are funds that could be involved, it is believed.

The equity capital increase paves the way for the influx of capital that will contribute to PPC’s 8.4 billion-euro investment plan until 2026, currently ranked as the most ambitious in the Greek market.

Besides the installation of RES units with a total capacity of 8.1 GW, PPC also aims to branch out into the Balkans, beginning with projects in Romania and Bulgaria.

Romania’s RES market is growing at an annual rate of 8 percent, the country’s objective being to reach an installed capacity of 6 GW by 2030. Bulgaria’s RES market is growing at an even greater rate, 15 percent. The neighboring country’s objective is to have installed a further 3 GW by 2030.

DEPA Comm., ELFE appeals this week, key for privatization

An Athens Court of Appeal will, on Thursday, hear three appeals submitted by gas utility DEPA and fertilizer industry ELFE following a Court of First Instance verdict in 2019 concerning an ongoing legal dispute between the two companies.

ELFE is seeking 302 million euros in compensation from DEPA, contending the gas company overpriced gas supply between 2010 and 2015.

DEPA has also filed a case seeking 86.7 million euros from the fertilizer producer, based in Kavala, northern Greece, in overdue amounts. The Court of First Instance had issued a verdict trimming this amount to 60 million euros. It is now the turn of the Athens Court of Appeal to decide.

Much attention is being paid to this case as, should it drag on, it could impact the ongoing 100 percent privatization of DEPA Commercial. In addition, a decision vindicating ELFE can be expected to also prompt other gas consumers to file overpricing cases against DEPA.

If the legal battle is prolonged, TAIPED, the privatization fund, could temporarily shelve the privatization until a final legal decision is reached. Another option being considered by the government is for the Greek State to cover any resulting compensation claims if ELFE is vindicated, as a form of guarantee for the prospective buyers.

The Greek State’s 65 percent stake is being offered by TAIPED, the privatization fund, and Hellenic Petroleum ELPE is also selling its 35 percent stake.

Regulatory framework, potential key to Italgas’ DEPA Infr. move

The existing regulatory framework and country’s gas penetration prospects were key attractions in Italgas’ decision to develop an interest in DEPA Infrastructure, according to the Italian company, the preferred bidder in a privatization offering a 100 percent stake.

Given the Greek government’s approval, the agreement is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the Italian company’s administration has just informed. Bidding procedures were completed last week.

Italgas began considering its DEPA move back in the spring of 2018 and views its acquisition as a significant step signaling the company’s return to the Greek market following a presence some years ago through gas distributor EDA THESS, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas, chief executive Paolo Gallo noted.

“Greece is similar to Sardinia. Investments are needed. We can also develop our knowhow here for new, fully digital networks that will lead Greece through the energy transition,” Gallo commented.

The DEPA Infrastructure deal perfectly matches Italgas’ long-term strategic vision, while the Italian company, through this investment, can maintain a strong presence in Greece for decades, possibly right up until 2043, Gallo projected.

Italgas plans to increase DEPA Infrastructure’s network supply points from 509 last year to 870 by 2026 and over 1,050 by 2030. It also aims to extend the network’s total length from 6,875 km to 10,800 km in 2026 and 11,500 km in 2030.

Italgas expects DEPA Infrastructure’s revenue to increase from 129 million euros last year to 210 million euros in 2026 and 240 million euros in 2030, while operating profit is expected to rise from 81 million euros to 160 million euros in 2026 and 185 million euros in 2030.

Energy privatizations exceed forecasts, raising nearly €3bn

Two major energy-sector privatizations whose bidding procedures were completed last week, the 100 percent sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure and 49 percent sale of electricity distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations, resulting in total revenue, from both sales, of 2.849 billion euros, well over initial projections of 2.2 billion euros.

Australian fund Macquarie’s 2.116 billion-euro winning offer for 49 percent of DEDDIE/HEDNO, being offered without managerial control, stands as a record sum for Greek privatizations.

The DEDDIE/HEDNO sale’s amount will be used by power utility PPC, the parent company, for network modernization, RES growth, and improved customer services.

Italy’s Italgas secured 100 percent of DEPA Infrastructure with an improved follow-up offer of 733 million euros. Thus sum is expected to exceed 800 million euros once the buyer’s bid for a 49 percent stake in distributor EDA THESS, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas, is submitted and added to the tally.

According to the DEPA Infrastructure sale’s terms, the winning bidder must also purchase EDA THESS’s 49 percent stake, held by Italy’s Eni gas e Luce, wanting to sell.

The favorable outcomes of the two privatizations highlight the country’s improving investment climate as well as the confidence of foreign institutional and strategic investors in the prospects of the Greek economy, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted. This improvement is also confirmed by yet another upgrade of the Greek economy, this time by Scope Rating, he added.

Besides signaling good news for the Greek economy, the DEDDIE/HEDNO and DEPA Infrastructure privatizations also send an upbeat message on the prospects of the domestic energy market.

 

Big week for energy privatizations, approaching finales

It is a big week for the country’s energy privatizations with gas company DEPA Infrastructure’s tender set to reach a concluding stage tomorrow and that of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO also approaching its finale as its binding bids are scheduled to be opened on Friday.

Italgas, Italy’s biggest natural gas distribution company and the third largest in Europe, has, according to sources, submitted the highest bid in the DEPA Infrastructure sale, offering an 100 percent stake, and is the only bidder to which the privatization fund TAIPED has extended a request for an improved offer, by tomorrow.

The Italgas offer is believed to be close to 700 million euros, a figure expected to rise further, and well above an offer submitted by rival bidder EPH from the Czech Republic.

As for the privatization of DEDDIE/HEDNO, a power utility PPC subsidiary, four binding offers, for a 49% stake, have been submitted by major international funds CVC Capital Partners Group, First Sentier Investors Group, KKR Group, and the Macquarie Group. This level of participation could boost bid levels. Offers of over 1.5 billion euros, or even 1.7 billion euros, could be unveiled, sources have anticipated.

The rebounding economy, potential of Greece’s energy market, as well as the statures of all five suitors involved in the two sales could result in two of the country’s most lucrative privatization agreements, in all sectors.

Binding bids for HEDNO today, PPC sets ambitious target price

The sale of a 49 percent stake in power utility PPC’s subsidiary DEDDIE/HEDNO, the distribution network operator, has reached the final stretch with at least three bidders in contention as the binding-bids deadline expires today.

US fund CVC Capital, as well as Australia’s Macquarie and First Sentier, are believed to be in the running, while the participation of KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.) remains probable.

PPC’s administration is not expected to accept anything less than 1.5 billion euros for the subsidiary’s 49 percent, a price expectation based on DEDDIE/HEDNO’s book value, estimated at 3 billion euros.

The operator’s regulated earnings for 2021 to 2024 begin at 771 million euros and reach 798 million euros in 2024.

The financial offers by bidders are not expected to be opened today but will remain under wraps until all other details (legal, technical) of the offers have been fully examined.

Once the binding bids have been submitted, PPC will call an extraordinary general shareholders’ meeting for the sale’s approval. PPC’s objective is to have completed this partial privatization by the end of the year.

 

Italgas, DEPA Infrastructure’s top bidder, step from acquisition

Italgas, Italy’s biggest natural gas distribution company and the third largest in Europe, is now one step away from acquiring Greece’s DEPA Infrastructure as, according to energypresss sources, it has submitted the highest bid in the DEPA Infrastructure sale and is the only bidder to which the privatization fund TAIPED has extended a request for an improved offer, by September 8.

The Italgas offer is believed to be close to 700 million euros, a figure expected to rise further, and well above an offer submitted by rival bidder EPH from the Czech Republic.

The preferred bidder may be officially announced on September 9. The sale procedure is expected to be finalized by the end of the year as national and European authorities will need to re-certify DEPA Infrastructure as a natural gas network operator under its new ownership to emerge from the sale.

The 100 percent privatization of DEPA Infrastructure comprises 100 percent of gas distributor EDA Attiki, covering the wider Athens area; 100 percent of gas distributor DEDA, representing all other areas in Greece except for Thessaloniki and Thessaly; as well as a 51 percent stake in gas distributor EDA THESS, covering the Thessaloniki and Thessaly areas.

The preferred bidder will also submit an offer for the remaining 49 percent stake in EDA THESS, based on an agreement reached between TAIPED, the privatization fund, with Italy’s Eni Gas e Luce, the current holder of this minority stake.

As a result, DEPA Infrastructure’s winning bidder stands to become the sole stakeholder in the three gas distribution companies.

HEDNO bids confirmed Friday, sale price of over €1.7bn seen

Just three days remain before claims, for some time now, concerning binding bids from three major funds in the 49 percent sale of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO can be confirmed.

US fund CVC Capital, as well as Australia’s Macquarie and First Sentier, are all believed to have submitted binding bids, while the participation of KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.) remains uncertain. All will be confirmed this Friday.

More crucially, the bids will reveal whether the sale of DEDDIE/HEDNO’s 49 percent stake can exceed a price of 1.7 billion euros, as contended by bank and financing sources.

If these market projections are confirmed, the sale will be considered a resounding success as the DEDDIE/HEDNO stake will be sold at 1.18 times its Regulatory Asset Base (RAB).

According to a latest DEDDIE/HEDNO evaluation, assisted by professional services provider Grant Thornton, the operator’s total value is worth 2.95 billion euros.

 

Network users to cover 50% of South Kavala UGS project cost

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has approved guidelines specifying how the development cost will be shared for an underground natural gas storage facility (UGS) at the almost depleted natural gas field of “South Kavala” in the Aegean Sea’s north, thereby settling one of the main regulatory issues that remained for an ongoing tender offering use, development and operation of the facility.

According to the RAE decision, 50 percent of the project’s cost will be passed on to gas network users. As for the other 50 percent, 35 percent is expected to be covered through EU funding, assuming the project is included on the EU’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, while the remaining 15 percent will be taken on by the eventual investor.

In the event that the UGS is excluded from the EU’s PCI list, the Greek State will consider becoming a project partner so that the cost for gas network users is not increased.

DESFA-GEK TERNA and Energean Oil & Gas have advanced to the second round of a project tender staged by privatization fund TAIPED.

The almost depleted natural gas field, where the UGS will be developed, is located 18 km south of the main coastline of Kavala, roughly 6 km west of the island Thasos, at a sea depth of 52 meters.

Mid-October bidding deadline for assets leased to Larco

Privatization fund TAIPED will, according to sources, set a mid-October deadline for binding bids concerning the privatization of the Larymna smelting plant, the Larymna and Loutsi mines and relevant mining rights and other assets owned by the Hellenic Republic and currently leased to “LARCO General Metallurgical & Mining Company S.A.” (LARCO).

Six interested parties are participant in the tender. These are:

  1. COMMODITY & MINING INSIGHT IRELAND LIMITED
  2. GEK TERNA S.A. – AD HOLDINGS AG
  3. MYTILINEOS S.A.
  4. SOLWAY INVESTMENT GROUP LIMITED
  5. THARISA PLC
  6. TRAFIGURA GROUP Pte Ltd

DEPA Infrastructure bidder legal files opened ahead of offers

Privatization fund TAIPED has opened first-stage files carrying legal documents submitted by two bidders, Italy’s gas network operator Italgas and the Czech Republic’s EP INVESTMENT ADVISORS, for the 100 percent sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure.

This is the first step before the financial offers submitted by the two bidders are opened.

TAIPED officials are now examining the legal documents in case any clarification is needed before the sale’s procedure advances to the second and final stage, when the financial offers are opened, probably towards the end of August or early September.

The possibility of the bidders being asked to improve their offers has not been ruled out.

 

Italgas, Czech Republic’s EPH bid for DEPA Infrastructure

Italy’s gas network operator Italgas and the Czech Republic’s EP INVESTMENT ADVISORS (EPH) met yesterday’s deadline to submit binding bids for the 100 percent sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, bringing this privatization to its final stretch.

TAIPED, Greece’s privatization fund, will now need to check if the files submitted by the suitors are complete before opening up their respective financial offers.

The privatization fund’s board will inspect the first-stage files, carrying legal documents, at its next meeting, sources informed. If the files are complete, TAIPED will proceed to the next step of opening up the financial offers, but not before some time has elapsed to allow for possible objections.

If the price difference in the financial offers is no more than 15 percent, TAIPED will request improved follow-up bids from both bidders.

The preferred bidder is expected to be announced by the end of August or early September. DG Comp and DG Energy approval will then be required before an agreement can be signed for the transfer, to the winning bidder, of TAIPED’s 65 percent stake control of DEPA Infrastructure and the 35 percent stake held by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).

The sale of DEPA Infrastructure, controlling the distribution networks of EDA Attiki, covering the wider Athens area, EDA Thess, covering Thessaloniki and Thessaly, as well as DEDA, covering the rest of Greece, will spell the end of the Greek State’s control of the country’s low and medium-pressure natural gas pipelines.

DEPA Infrastructure sale now a showdown for two, Italgas, EPH

With the deadline for binding bids in the 100 percent sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure expiring tomorrow, a latest update from sources indicates that two suitors will submit offers, Italy’s gas network operator Italgas and the Czech Republic’s EP INVESTMENT ADVISORS (EPH). An additional bid by a third participant has not been ruled out.

Besides Italgas and EPH, four other bidders have qualified for the privatization’s final round, these being two Australian funds, FIRST STATE INVESTMENTS (European Diversified Infrastructure Fund II) and MACQUARIE (MEIF 6 DI HOLDINGS), international fund KKR and Chinese consortium SINO-CEE FUND & SHANGHAI DAZHONG PUBLIC UTILITIES (GROUP) Co., Ltd.

The Greek State is selling its 65 percent stake in DEPA Infrastructure, through the privatization fund TAIPED, and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) the other 35 percent.

Italgas’ chief executive Paolo Gallo, in an interview with Greek daily Ta Nea, has stated the company will be submitting a binding offer for the DEPA Infrastructure sale.

Italgas is Italy’s biggest natural gas distributor, holding a 34 percent market share, and also ranks as Europe’s third biggest network operator. Italgas operates 70,000 kilometers of networks serving over 1,800 municipalities.

Rival bidder EPH is a formidable energy group with vertically integrated investments in central Europe. It owns and utilizes assets in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, the UK, France, Hungary and Poland, covering a range of domains such as energy and heat production, natural gas transmission and storage, as well as distribution and supply of natural gas, heating and electricity.

DEPA Infrastructure controls gas distributors EDA Attiki and EDA THESS, both with 51 percent stakes, as well as DEDA.

HEDNO’s Crete assets transfer to IPTO based on market value

A legislative revision needed for the transfer to power grid operator IPTO of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets on Crete, a pending issue that must be resolved for the launch of market activity concerning the island’s small-scale interconnection with the Peloponnese, is close to being finalized, according to sources, informing that this transfer will be based on the commercial value, not book value, of assets.

The price of the transfer will be determined by the market value of DEDDIE/HEDNO, as shaped following offers by suitors in a privatization offering a 49 percent of the distribution network operator.

These offers are expected to be submitted very soon.

Asked yesterday on whether DEDDIE/HEDNO’s assets will be valued based on market price or book value, energy minister Kostas Skrekas said the matter is still being processed.

It is already considered certain that the fiber optics network will remain with DEDDIE/HEDNO, bolstering the capital base of parent company PPC, the power utility.

This essentially means that whichever consortium acquires a 49 percent stake in DEDDIE/HEDNO will not have control over the fiber optics PPC intends to install at its subsidiary’s networks, through deals such as one already established with telecommunication company Forthnet.

DEPA Infrastructure sale’s July 15 deadline confirmed, 2-3 bids expected

Privatization fund TAIPED has decided to keep unchanged a July 15 deadline for binding bids concerning the 100 percent sale of gas company DEPA Infrastructure, meaning this privatization procedure, now 17 months long, has hit the final stretch.

The Greek State is selling its 65 percent stake in DEPA Infrastructure and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) the other 35 percent.

The deadline date was reconfirmed following the energy ministry’s settlement of pending issues.

Just days ago, a legislative revision was ratified to grant 30-year license extensions to the EDA distribution companies, DEPA subsidiaries.

Also, a rule enabling the removal of geographical areas from the control of EDA companies if delays in their development of distribution networks in these areas have reached 18 months will not be applied if the EDA companies are found to not be responsible for these delays.

Moreover, the legislative revision has introduced a new mechanism enabling required revenue recovery underperformance by one of the country’s three EDA distribution company to be covered by the other EDA companies, through revenue offsetting procedures concerning equivalent periods.

If this procedure fails to resolve required revenue recovery underperformances, then any discrepancy will be covered through price adjustments at all three EDA companies.

A total of six participants have qualified for the final round of the DEPA Infrastructure sale. According to sources, two or three suitors are seen submitting binding bids in just over a week, but this remains to be confirmed.

The six qualifiers are:

  • EP INVESTMENT ADVISORS
  • FIRST STATE INVESTMENTS (European Diversified Infrastructure Fund II)
  • ITALGAS SpA
  • KKR (KKR Global Infrastructure Investors III L.P.)
  • MACQUARIE (MEIF 6 DI HOLDINGS)
  • SINO-CEE FUND & SHANGHAI DAZHONG PUBLIC UTILITIES (GROUP) Co., Ltd consortium.

 

At least four binding bids seen in HEDNO 49% privatization

Four consortiums have been established involving most, if not all, of the nine participants through to the second round of a sale offering a 49 percent stake in distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a subsidiary of power utility PPC, indicating that at least four binding offers can be expected, when these are submitted within August, sources monitoring the procedure have informed.

All nine qualifiers have been assessing DEDDIE/HEDNO’s technical and financial data, the sources said.

At its most recent session, PPC’s board approved a plan for the transfer of the group’s electricity distribution assets to DEDDIE/HEDNO.

Also, PPC has commissioned professional services company Grant Thorton for the asset evaluation process, expected in August.

The privatization’s nine second-round qualifiers are:

ARDIAN Infrastructure Funds

BCI – British Columbia Investment Management Corporation

BLACKROCK – BlackRock Alternatives Management, L.L.C

CVC Capital Partners – Advisers Company, S.a.r.l

F2i – Fondi Italiani per le Infrastructure SGR S.p.A

First Sentier Investors EDIF III GP S.a.r.l

KKR – Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.

MACQUARIE Group Limited

OHA – Oak Hill Advisors LLP