Six in­ter­na­tional groups ex­press in­ter­est in DESFA

Kathimerini English - - Focus - VAN­GE­LIS MANDRAVELIS

There were­ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from Europe, the USA and Qatar yes­ter­day for a ma­jor­ity stake in Greece’s nat­u­ral gas trans­mis­sion sys­tem op­er­a­tor DESFA.

The Hel­lenic Re­pub­lic As­set De­vel­op­ment Fund (TAIPED) man­aged to at­tract the in­ter­est of six bid­ders for the 66 per­cent stake in the gas firm. Most of the in­vestors are from Europe.

The in­ter­ested in­vestors are: Mac­quarie In­fra­struc­ture and Real As­sets (UK); a con­sor­tium of Italy’s Snam, Bel­gium’s Fluxys, Dutch-based Ga­sunie and Spain’s Ena­gas; Ro­ma­nian sta­te­owned Transgaz with France’s GRTgaz; Spain’s Re­gasi­fi­cadora del Noroeste; In­te­grated Util­ity Ser­vices (USA); and Pow­erGlobe LLC (Qatar).

The level of in­ter­est shown is deemed by Greek au­thor­i­ties to be more than sat­is­fac­tory, es­pe­cially as al­most all the com­pa­nies in­volved in the dis­tri­bu­tion of nat­u­ral gas within Europe were in­volved in the process. The fact that a non-Euro­pean firm – Pow­erGlobe of Qatar – also ex­pressed in­ter­est is also seen as a pos­i­tive sign.

It should be noted that con­sor­tiums from out­side of the Euro­pean Union which are not mem­bers of the Euro­pean Net­work of Trans­mis­sion Sys­tem Op­er­a­tors for Gas (ENTSOG) are not el­i­gi­ble un­der the terms of the ten­der. How­ever, it is ex­pected that as the ten­der pro­gresses, they will work with a mem­ber of the as­so­ci­a­tion to try to be­come the pre­ferred bid­der.

The next step in the process is for TAIPED to check that the ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est are valid. This is ex­pected to take two to three weeks be­cause of the sum­mer va­ca­tions. The pri­va­ti­za­tion agency’s board is then due to ap­prove the in­vestors so they can pass on to the sec­ond phase of the ten­der, when they will gain ac­cess to DESFA’s vir­tual data room and have the right to sub­mit a bind­ing of­fer.

It is dif­fi­cult at the mo­ment to es­ti­mate when the of­fers will be made, es­pe­cially given as the Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity for En­ergy (RAE) has to take some cru­cial de­ci­sions re­lat­ing to DESFA’s cus­tomer charges. It ap­pears un­likely that the ini­tial goal of com­plet­ing the sale by the end of the year will be achieved.

The gov­ern­ment has set 400 mil­lion eu­ros as a start­ing price for the ten­der. This was what Az­eri firm So­car of­fered in June 2013 for a 66 per­cent stake in DESFA. It is thought this tar­get is achiev­able. The Greek state will earn just un­der half of any amount agreed as its stake amounts to 31 per­cent, while the other 35 per­cent is be­ing di­vested by Hel­lenic Pe­tro­leum.

Greece is sell­ing 66 per­cent of DESFA.

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