ECONOMY

SOCAR says willing to divest part of stake it wants in Greek gas grid

socar-says-willing-to-divest-part-of-stake-it-wants-in-greek-gas-grid

Azeri state energy company SOCAR, which aims to acquire a 66 percent stake in Greek gas grid operator DESFA, would be prepared to divest 16 percent to a European company, SOCAR's president said on Friday.

That is close to one scenario being looked at by Athens which would see SOCAR take a stake but then sell at least 17 percent of the firm to either the Greek state or a third entity to address European Commission competition concerns, according to one privatization official.

"We are ready for negotiations with European companies over the sale of 16 percent," SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev told reporters.

The potential deal, which has been negotiated since 2013, would involve SOCAR buying the stake for around 400 million euros ($457 million) from the Greek state and Hellenic Petroleum .

SOCAR plans to resume talks over the deal in December following a parliamentary election in Greece set for September 20.

Greece's privatization agency said last month that a deal could be agreed by the end of the year.

Greece launched a privatization plan following the country's 2010 bailout deal but progress has been limited and new doubts about deals were raised after Greece's leftist SYRIZA party took power in January.

[Reuters]