Oil refiner sale fizzles out

Greece’s privatization program this year was dealt a heavy blow after the government failed to clinch the sale of a minority stake in oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum to the consortium of the Latsis group and Russian oil group Lukoil. «The consortium’s final offer received today was not accepted as it was not in the public interest. The tender has been declared void,» the Finance and Development ministries said in a joint statement. The government said it would look into other alternative forms of cooperation with international groups for Hellenic Petroleum. The tender for the sale of a 23.17 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum ended yesterday, itself an extension on a January 15 deadline. Negotiations between the government and the consortium had dragged on since May. The group had offered 454 million euros for the stake, with its 7.5-euro-per-share bid priced at a 33 percent premium to Hellenic Petroleum’s stock on the date of the submission of the offer. One major problem that could have held up the sale was the government’s decision to transfer Hellenic Petroleum’s option for an additional 35 percent stake in gas company DEPA to electricity utility Public Power Corporation. Leonid Fedun, Lukoil’s vice president, said negotiations had become fraught because the Greek side kept changing the conditions of the sale and had decided to sell Hellenic Petroleum’s 35 percent option in DEPA, Reuters reported yesterday. The Latsis group owns Petrola, the third largest oil-refining company in Greece. The sale had been perceived as an opportunity for Hellenic Petroleum to link up with a strategic partner and strengthen its international profile. The oil refiner’s shares fell 4.15 percent yesterday to close at 5.08 euros.