ECONOMY

Spanish firm only one interested in 35 pct of DEPA; offer seems low

Spanish gas distributor Gas Natural announced yesterday it has presented a binding offer for a 35 percent stake in Greece’s national gas company DEPA as part of its international expansion plan. «We have presented our offer today. It’s a binding offer. Now it is up to the Greek government to decide what they want to do,» a spokeswoman for the company said, declining to disclose the value of the bid. However, according to sources, the bid was for 265 million euros. Gas Natural has identified Greece as one of the countries it sees as important for its expansion abroad. At home, Gas Natural failed in its hostile takeover bid for power utility Iberdrola earlier this year. Gas Natural’s bid was in fact the only one for DEPA after two rivals, Russian gas giant Gazprom and a consortium made up of Greek-Russian joint venture Prometheus Gas and Germany’s Ruhrgas pulled out. All three had made preliminary non-binding bids for the DEPA stake in June. Gas Natural’s non-binding offer in June was estimated at around 260 million euros ($297 million), with the Ruhrgas offer even lower. Both Gazprom and the Ruhrgas / Prometheus Gas consortium yesterday afternoon informed the sale adviser, JP Morgan, that they would not bid for DEPA. The government is seeking to raise 3 billion euros this year from the sale of state assets to pay off public debt and expects to fetch up to 350 million euros. The State controls 65 percent of DEPA and oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum, the other 35 percent. Power utility Public Power Corporation has an option to buy 30 percent but the Finance Ministry has asked PPC not to exercise its option until the stake sale has been completed. (Reuters, Kathimerini)