Greece to push back DESFA gas grid privatisation deadline

A previous attempt to privatise DESFA collapsed in 2016


Greece’s privatization agency (HRADF) will push back to February the deadline for the submission of binding offers for a 66% stake in natural gas grid operator DESFA, a source close to the process said on yesterday (18 December).

“The interested parties have sought an extension. It will be granted with the deadline sometime in February. That date has not yet been set,” the source said, requesting anonymity.

The current deadline is 22 December.

HRADF had earlier identified the two investor groups qualified to proceed to the next phase of the tender – and the submission of binding bids – as Spain’s Regasificadora del Noroeste (Reganosa) and a consortium of Italy’s Snam, Spain’s Enagas Internacional, Belgium’s Fluxys and Dutch Gasunie.

The asset sale is part of a privatization program undertaken by Greece under the terms of its multi-billion euro bailout.

Based on an updated draft of key targets of the bailout programme, the nomination of the preferred bidder is to be completed by Feb. 2018. A share purchase agreement and shareholders’ agreement is to be signed by April, and a conclusion by June 2018.

DESFA owns and operates Greece’s natural gas network and a liquefied natural gas terminal offshore, west of the Greek capital Athens.

Greece’s privatization agency holds 65% in DESFA and Hellenic Petroleum owns the rest. Under the deal, Hellenic Petroleum is selling its 35% stake in DESFA and Greece is divesting the rest.

It transports gas from the Greek-Bulgarian and Greek-Turkish borders to Greek consumers via a 1,459-km (907-mile) pipeline.

A previous attempt to privatise DESFA collapsed in 2016.

Under its privatization programme, an important part of its international bailout, Greece and its biggest oil refiner, Hellenic Petroleum, had agreed to sell the DESFA stake to Azerbaijan’s SOCAR for €400 million.

The deal collapsed in November 2016 after Athens passed legislation raising DESFA’s gas tariffs by a lower amount than SOCAR had expected and SOCAR asked for a lower price.