UBS and National take up ELPE bond

Greece hired UBS and National Bank as advisers on an expiring 423-million-euro government bond convertible into shares of refiner Hellenic Petroleum, a source in the Finance Ministry said yesterday. The bond, which matures on July 28, corresponds to an 8.2 percent stake in the refiner if converted into shares. But with a conversion price of 15 euros per share versus Hellenic’s current share price of less than 7 euros, bondholders are unlikely to exchange the bonds for shares. Senior officials have hinted the State will not renew the bond and will look into placing the stake. «The advisers will submit their proposals (before the bond expires) and the Finance Ministry will decide what to do with this 8.2 percent holding in the refiner,» the source said. Greece currently owns 43 percent in Hellenic Petroleum. The Latsis Group, which owns 25 percent in Hellenic through a subsidiary, holds the right of first refusal in a potential placement. Separately, other sources said negotiations for the sale of 35 percent of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) to Spain’s Gas Natural are making good progress. (Reuters, Kathimerini)