ECONOMY

Sale of Greece’s gas monopoly to be put off until 2015

Greece is pushing back the sale of the country’s gas monopoly beyond 2014 after the European Union asked for regulatory changes in the domestic market, according to the fund charged with selling state assets.

The EU asked for “an opening up of this market,” Yiannis Emiris, chief executive officer of Greece’s Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED), said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York late on Tuesday.

The changes “will further delay the process because we need to renegotiate, and DEPA needs to renegotiate with certain partners. This is going to take some time.”

Greece failed to secure any bids for gas company DEPA SA in June, marking a setback to a state asset sales program that underpins 240 billion euros of foreign aid.

The sale, which attracted interest from Russia’s OAO Gazprom, will be postponed beyond 2014 as Greece complies with regulatory changes sought by the EU, its largest creditor, Emiris said.

The country plans to sell stakes in two ports in February and aims to conclude the sale next month of Hellenikon SA, a property which at 6.2 million square meters is more than three times the size of Monaco.

“This is something that provides a natural hedge to the Greek economy and it’s lucrative for the international investor,” he said.

“That was not the case with DEPA, which is pegged directly to the Greek economy and Greek industry.”

[Bloomberg]