BUSINESS

DESFA bids of 400 mln or over, minister says

CHRYSSA LIAGGOU

TAGS: Energy, Privatizations

Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis has given candidate buyers of gas grid operator DESFA a 400-million-euro bar to clear ahead of next Monday’s submission of non-binding bids.

The minister on Wednesday visited DESFA’s headquarters to learn about the company’s financial state and told employees there were three conditions that would secure the smooth development of the current process for the concession of a 66 percent stake to a strategic investor.

Stathakis specifically referred to respect for the competitive character of the tender process by all parties involved, and securing a fair price that will reflect “the perfect financial condition DESFA is in.”

“The previous tender has already set a starting point,” said the minister, sending a message to potential investors that bids should not be any lower than the 400 million euros Azeri company Socar offered for the same stake in the first tender. Hellenic Petroleum, which holds a 35 percent stake in the gas grid operator, has made similar statements.

Stathakis also set as a condition for the tender’s smooth progress the maintenance of the company’s public property so as to ensure that its operation will always be compatible with what the state and national interests dictate. He further expressed his absolute confidence in the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE), which, he said, will safeguard the operation of the company in a properly regulated institutional environment.

The minister’s intervention points to a strong competition and the intention of some investors to bid high. After all, a few days ago the chief executive of Italy’s Snam, Marco Alvera, told analysts he expected the competition for DESFA’s stake to be intense, given Greece’s strategic position.

That is also an incentive for two companies with stakes in the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), Belgium’s Fluxys and Spain’s Enagas, which are also interested in DESFA, while Dutch firm Gasunie and French operator GRTgaz may also enter. Monday will also reveal whether the interest from the US will lead to a consortium with a European company.

Online