Two of six DESFA bidders seen making tender’s shortlist

Two bidding formations from a starting field of six, one comprised of Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagas, Belgium’s Fluxys and Dutch operator Gasunie, and the other, Regasificadora del Noroeste, a Spanish entry bidding alone, are believed to have qualified for the second and final round of an international tender offering a 66 percent stake of DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, energypress sources informed.

TAIPED, the state privatization fund, will soon announce the second round shortlist, possibly within the day.

Qatar’s Powerglobe LLC, American entry Integrated Utility Services (INTUS), French-Romanian team GRTgaz-Transgas, and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, an Australian contestant, have failed to make the shortlist, the sources noted. The French-Romanian and Australian entries did not meet operator certification requirements, an internationally renowned Brussels law firm helped determine, as the eligibility of both bidders was unclear.

Local authorities are concerned that the qualification of just two tender entrants may subdue second-round bidding and keep the sale price low. Some officials also fear the tender’s result could develop into a one-horse race for the Snam-Enagas-Fluxys-Gasunie team, as this formidable combination is expected to overpower the bidding ability of Regasificadora del Noroeste.

Azerbaijani firm Socar’s winning bid of 400 million euros for DESFA’s 66 percent in the preceding unfinished tender has served as an unofficial standard for this latest sale effort. Any sale price below this level would represent a failure, including for the government, whose moves helped bring down the previous DESFA tender.

Investors have demanded greater clarity over DEFSA’s long-term revenue capacity, including the method through which the operator will collect a “recoverable difference” of 320 million euros over the next 18 years. Investors are pushing for terms ensuring payment of a greater amount within the first ten years.

The payment’s distribution over the 18-year period dominated a meeting yesterday hosted by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy. TAIPED, ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) and DESFA officials took part. The meeting apparently led to more disagreements than agreements. According to sources, TAIPED’s representatives backed the investor request for payment of a greater “recoverable difference” amount earlier on.