Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis has floated the idea of the state retaining majority or even full control of the company to which Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) will transfer the hydrocarbon surveying and utilization rights conceded to it. The initiative comes at a time when the tender for the sale of a 50.1 percent stake in the oil company to a strategic investor is generating fresh interest in the market.
A decision by Greece’s Capital Market Commission allowing the strategic investor not to submit a public offer has simplified the process for investors and revitalized their interest. The decision was formally submitted to state sell-off fund TAIPED last Friday. However, the intervention by Stathakis to alter the terms of the tender that have been agreed with Paneuropean of the Latsis group, is stirring fresh uncertainty.
The agreement with the Latsis group – reflected also in TAIPED’s invitation of interest – stipulates that once the transaction is completed the state will reserve the right to immediately acquire 25 percent of the exploration holding company to which the surveying and utilization rights will be conceded, via a share capital increase. Yet Stathakis has raised to the Latsis group as well as to the investors (Vitol and Glencore) the issue of increasing that 25 percent stake to 51 percent or even 100 percent.
The minister does not appear to have received positive feedback from either of the two sides. “The solution will emerge from the invitation of interest. The tender refers to a stake of 25 percent,” HELPE sources tell Kathimerini, confirming that a discussion on the matter is well under way. “We need to see what the investors will say,” they add.
There was no comment from the ministry regarding the initiative for increasing the state’s stake in the hydrocarbon holding company. HELPE and TAIPED expect that this will not block the course of the tender for the sale of HELPE, which, they say, has entered the final stretch after the decision of the Capital Market Commission.
TAIPED sources also suggest a surge of interest from other investors as well, mainly major funds, for participating in the second stage of the tender, which is possible through a consortium with one of the two candidate investors.