TAIPED pushing for swift ELPE sale action, binding bids by July

TAIPED, the state privatization fund, is pressuring all officials involved with ELPE’s (Hellenic Petroleum) bailout-required sale of a 50.5 percent stake to push ahead with fast-track procedures, the objective being to have a finalized and signed agreement with the new owner by the end of the year.

The privatization fund has ordered the sale’s advisers and all bureaucratic departments involved to move ahead with all necessary approvals concurrently rather than as a step-by-step process. TAIPED wants binding bids by prospective buyers in by the end of July.

Each step of the overall procedure will need to take no longer than an average of ten days if the sale is to move along at the pace demanded by TAIPED.

Expressions of Interest submitted by five investment schemes earlier this week will need to be appraised by next week.

Expressions of Interest were submitted by two of the world’s biggest commodity traders, Dutch firm Vitol and Switzerland’s Glencore; Alrai Group Holdings Limited; a consortium comprised of Carbon Asset Management DWC-LLC and Alshaheen Group S.A.; and Gupta Family Group Alliance.

Their dossiers will need to be appraised by next week and a shortlist of second-round qualifiers must be announced two weeks later. At this stage, qualifiers will also need to be granted immediate access to ELPE’s data room.

Then, a deadline for binding bids, within July, will need to be announced to keep the sale on schedule, as demanded by TAIPED.  Follow-up bids, already anticipated, will need to ensue swiftly. This would enable the privatization fund to announce a preferred bidder within the summer.

If all runs smoothly and this time frame is achieved, then the buyer’s dossier could be submitted to the Court of Auditors for approval in early autumn and followed by the signing of a share purchase agreement.

The agreement’s documents will then need to be submitted to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition for its approval. Once this step is completed, TAIPED and the buyer will be clear to sign a finalized agreement. Pundits believe this overall time frame can be achieved, even if it may seem too good to be true.

The ELPE privatization represents a complex procedure and the dossiers of prospective investors could require considerable appraisal time, as was the case with DESFA, the natural gas grid operator. This would delay the sale’s overall schedule. However, a greater number of final-round qualifiers would increase the likelihood of higher bids.

ELPE may be a formidable local force, but the refinery is not an industry powerhouse on a global scale. A greater number of final-round bidders would therefore increase the likelihood of a satisfactory sale price.