The privatization of energy firms is entering the final stage and is expected to bring radical changes to the landscape in the local market.
According to the government’s agreement with international its creditors, March should see the start of the privatization process for Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) and Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), with the concession of a 17 percent stake in Public Power Corporation (PPC) coming in June. All three projects ought to be completed by the end of the year.
Regarding HELPE, the main objective is the concession of a 35 percent stake held by the state. However, the agreement also foresees the option of conceding a smaller stake, but with the Latsis group also selling a stake in the firm, which it holds via Paneuropean. That would mean that state sell-off fund TAIPED puts a total share package of 51 percent in HELPE up for sale, providing any investor with control of the firm’s management as well.
Such a scenario would provide the state with 500 million euros in revenues, as well as allowing it to remain in the company, albeit with a smaller share, which the government could use to appease reactions from its leftist voters to the sale and from within the ruling party.
The alternative scenario would require a provisional agreement with the Latsis group, which is not expected to run into any serious obstacles at this specific time, as the company is also running major investment projects in other areas, such as the development of the old airport plot at Elliniko.
The plan also requires investors who are willing to spend some 1.5 billion euros to buy the 51 percent stake in HELPE. They may be major traders or funds, or big oil companies outside the European Union who carry out drilling and could use HELPE as a gateway to the EU market.
All of this will be hard to achieve in the tight timetable the deal with creditors sets out, however, so another alternative scenario has been put on the table to meet the privatization revenue target of half a billion euros. This provides for the concession of two share packages, one this year including 20 percent of HELPE, and another next year with 15 percent of shares.