Various ELPE sale plans tabled as sale launch date approaches

Various intentions concerning the price and schedule of ELPE’s (Hellenic Petroleum) imminent privatization, the biggest planned for Greece’s energy sector and one of the overall program’s biggest, are still being considered by local officials despite the fact that the government and country’s lenders have settled for the sale of a 51 percent stake of the petroleum group.

The government, representing the Greek State’s 35.5 percent stake of ELPE, and Paneuropean Oil, a member of the Latsis corporate group, which controls a 45.47 percent stake, will need to forge an agreement offering a majority stake for a strategic investor.

Three lines of thought have emerged. The finance ministry, powering the first of these, is pushing to finalize all pending bailout issues by a June 21 Eurogroup meeting. Officials at the ministry know well that the course of the country’s privatizations program will be pivotal for post-bailout terms, including relief measure negotiations.

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, the chief advocate of a second approach to the ELPE privatization, appears to have abandoned initial thoughts entailing various alternatives and has agreed on the basics of the plan to offer investors a 51 percent of the petroluem group. However, he seems determined to hold on to some sort of Greek State control for ELPE, currently experiencing one of the most profitable periods in the corporation’s history. ELPE’s board supports this approach.

As for the sale’s other factor, the Latsis corporate group’s Paneuropean Oil appears to have struck common ground with the Greek State for an agreement that would offer investors a 51 percent stake of ELPE.

Developments concerning this privatization are expected to unfold over the next few weeks. The sale’s international tender is, according to the bailout terms, planned to be announced in roughly two weeks’ time.