OPAP sale earns 712 mln for state

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) announced on Wednesday the sale of the state’s 33 percent controlling stake in OPAP to the Emma Delta consortium after receiving an improved offer totaling 712 million euros, marking the completion of Greece’s first major privatization project.

The price agreed is 30 million euros higher than the Czech-Greek consortium’s original offer, although it is 18 million short of what TAIPED had hoped to make from the sell-off.

A total of 622 million euros – the original offer – will be paid in a lump sum upon the signing of the agreement, while another 60 million represents the state’s dividend for 2012, which will be paid to TAIPED by the new owner, and the additional 30 million euros will be paid over the next decade, probably in 10 installments of 3 million euros per annum.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras spoke of success in the country’s first big sell-off. He said there are multiple benefits for the state because “investment funds’ confidence in the Greek economy is being proved.” He also stressed his belief that the privatizations program will move ahead with determination in an effort to accelerate the country’s pace as it emerges from the crisis.

TAIPED stated that Emma Delta’s offer amounts to 18.6 times the estimated profits in 2013. “If OPAP wasn’t privatized, the state would collect a dividend for the 2013 financial year of just 13 million euros, and over the next decade it would get no more than 360 million euros, which is about 50 percent of the amount it is getting through the privatization,” the fund said in a statement issued last night.

Meanwhile TAIPED is said to have decided to extend the deadline for the submission of bids for gas companies DEPA and DESFA by another 10 days, to May 20, upon the request of Russian energy giant Gazprom, on the grounds that the Easter holidays bring every corporate move in Russia to a standstill.