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Greek DEPA hopes for winning natural gas bidder by year-end

07 Jun 2012 14:47:50 | esgm

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The privatisation process of the dominant Greek natural gas provider, the Public Gas Corp (DEPA), and its subsidiary Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA) could move forward quickly after the election on 17 June and be concluded by the end of the year, DEPA CEO Harry Sachinis has said.

"We believe the process will continue right after the elections. The information memorandum that will go out to the companies involved is now ready to go," Sachinis told ICIS on the sidelines of the World Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

"Despite this delay of a few weeks between the two elections, the whole process can still be completed by the end of the year."

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), which is hosting the asset sale of DEPA and DESFA, had previously expected that after the general election on 6 May it would soon receive more firm expressions of interest (see ESGM 12 April 2012). However, with that election proving inconclusive, Greek voters must head to the polls again later this month.

Around six weeks after the memorandum goes out, indicative bids from the 14 companies that qualified for the process are expected back.

Russia's Gazprom, Azerbaijan's SOCAR and Italy's Edison are among the companies involved.

Athens is open to selling DEPA in conjunction with transmission system operator (TSO) DESFA as a bundled purchase, but is also accepting bids for the two companies separately, as unbundled entities. The independent transmission operator (ITO) model would be used should the companies be bought together.

In addition to owning 100% of DESFA, DEPA owns 51% of the country's local distribution companies, which have a monopoly until 2036 to sell gas to small industrial, commercial and residential customers.

The privatisation of DEPA and DESFA is part of a wider undertaking by the government announced in April last year to raise €50bn in asset sales through 2015, in order to meet goals to reduce the country's deficit and debt.

Last month, the HRADF said the Greek Court of First Instance had rejected a petition by a company called Fund Energy to put on hold the privatisation of the gas assets. Fund Energy was one of three companies that failed to qualify for the DEPA and DESFA sale. EC

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