There were expressions of interest from Europe, the USA and Qatar on Monday 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 state-owned 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.