Italy’s biggest natural gas distribution company, Italgas, is on the verge of entering the Greek market.
Kathimerini understands that Europe’s third largest gas distributor is very close to reaching an agreement with fellow Italian Eni Gas e Luce for the acquisition of the latter’s portfolio in the Greek gas grid.
Eni Gas e Luce is a subsidiary of oil giant Eni and is active in electricity and gas retail in Greece through ZeniTH (formerly known as Thessaloniki and Thessaly Gas Corporation). It also has a 49 percent holding in Thessaloniki gas distributor EDA Thess, which is 51 percent owned by Public Gas Corporation (DEPA).
Italgas’ interest in EDA Thess is associated with its strategic planning for the full control of gas transmission networks in Greece; this opportunity has arisen with the expected concession to a strategic investor of the state’s holding in DEPA’s infrastructures subsidiary (DEPA Infrastructure) – the company that will emerge after DEPA is split into two companies.
This new company will obtain the entire set of DEPA infrastructure as well as DEPA’s holdings in the capital’s distribution company EDA Attikis, along with EDA Thess and Public Gas Distribution Company SA (DEDDA).
Sources say the two Italian companies are close to agreeing on the transaction of the 49 percent stake in EDA Thess that could take place before the tender for the privatization of DEPA Infrastructure. Some contacts appear to have taken place with DEPA and state sell-off fund TAIPED.
Unlike Italgas, whose strategy is focused on transmission networks, distribution activity does not form part of Eni Gas e Luce’s strategy, and Greece is the only market where it administers a transmission network.
Eni Gas e Luce officials avoided commenting to Kathimerini on the sale of the stake in EDA Thess to Italgas, but did confirm the company’s intention to disengage from distribution activity.
“Eni Gas e Luce is awaiting developments in Greece and will then weigh its options regarding its EDA Thess stake, without ruling out the possibility of its concession,” they told Kathimerini.