Greece could sell 51 pct stake in Hellenic Petroleum, sources say

TAGS: Energy, Privatizations

Greece could sell up to a 51 percent stake in its biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum to meet a key condition of its international bailout, government and union officials said.

Under its latest 86 billion euro ($107 billion) bailout, Athens agreed to launch a series of privatisations this year, including divesting the state’s 35.5 percent stake in Hellenic or selling a smaller stake if its lenders agreed.

Now, however, Athens is looking at selling all or part of its stake together with part of Paneuropean Oil and Industrial Holdings’ stake for a combined 51 percent stake. That is one of two options under consideration, but the most likely, an energy ministry official who declined to be named told Reuters on Wednesday.

Paneuropean Oil, which is Hellenic’s biggest shareholder with a 45.5 percent stake, is owned by Greece’s Latsis Group.

The other option being considered is a convertible bond issue by Hellenic Petroleum, the official said, adding that whatever the government decides, it aimed to have it wrapped up by this summer.

Paneuropean Oil declined to comment on the options but said it was up to the government to decide how it wanted to proceed.

The head of Hellenic’s main labour union, which strongly opposes the planned sale, told Reuters that Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis outlined the options during a meeting with the union last week.

The 51 percent stake sale was presented as the most likely scenario, Giorgos Skopelitis told Reuters on Wednesday.

Under the bailout, which expires in August, Athens must launch the sale this month and has earmarked 500 million euros in proceeds in this year’s budget plan. Greece aims at total proceeds of 2 billion euros from stake sales in 2018.

Hellenic Petroleum, with a market value of 2.4 billion euros, operates three refineries in Greece. It holds an exploration licence in the Patraikos Gulf off the Peloponnese peninsula and plans to start test drilling there in 2019. [Reuters]