DESFA deal set to crum­ble?

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY CHRYSSA LIAGGOU

Both Az­eri firm Socar and the Greek gov­ern­ment ap­peared calm and col­lected yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s an­nounce­ment on Wed­nes­day that it would sub­ject the trans­fer of a 66 per­cent in Greece’s DESFA to the Az­eri company to an in-depth ex­am­i­na­tion, but the truth is that the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the Greek gas grid firm is re­vert­ing to its start­ing point.

Sev­en­teen months after the com­ple­tion of the ten­der for the sale of the con­trol­ling stake in the coun­try’s nat­u­ral gas trans­mis­sion net­work op­er­a­tor, the decision by the Euro­pean Union’s Direc­torate Gen­eral for Com­pe­ti­tion to ex­am­ine whether Socar’s en­try into DESFA would al­low it to abuse the Greek sys­tem op­er­a­tor’s po­si­tion in its own in­ter­est in ef­fect re­verses the course of the pri­va­ti­za­tion and raises se­ri­ous ques­tions over its fi­nal out­come.

The En­ergy Min­istry and state sell-off fund TAIPED played down the de­vel­op­ment, at­tribut­ing it to Brussels’s reg­u­lar tac­tics where large-scale takeovers are con­cerned, while Socar re­tained a cool de­meanor in a state­ment yes­ter­day that saw the Az­eri firm ex­pect­ing the com­ple­tion of the trans­ac­tion.

Since the ten­der’s com­ple­tion in June 2013, the afore­men­tioned is the only is­sue to have been raised by the Com­mis­sion in its con­tacts with the Greek and Az­eri sides, as the fact is that there has been no prece­dent of a company from a third coun­try with ver­ti­cal op­er­a­tions (from pro­duc­tion down to trans­mis­sion and re­tail) hav­ing gained con­trol of the en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture of an EU mem­ber state. For all its in­ten­tions of ap­prov­ing the takeover, the Com­mis­sion is bound by a di­rec­tive that ren­ders such a trans­ac­tion vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble, as some peo­ple say it was cre­ated in or­der to pre­vent the pen­e­tra­tion of Rus­sian en­ergy gi­ant Gazprom in the bloc.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.