Greece invites bids for state gas group DEPA

Feb 29, 2012 12:00 AM

Greece has invited bids for state-owned natural gas company DEPA as part of a privatisation programme designed to raise $ 25.5 bn by 2015. According to an offer document published earlier this month, the government is considering either a ‘bundled’ sale of DEPA, combining its wholesale, trading and gas supply business as well as its DESFA networks and liquified natural gas arm, or an ‘unbundled’ deal in which DESFA would be sold separately.
In either case, Greece, which owns 65 % of DEPA, would retain a 34 % stake. The deadline for bids is March.

The offer comes a day after environment minister George Papaconstantinou met the president of Russia's Gazprom Export, Alexander Medvedev, to discuss energy policy and Greece's privatisation programme, according to a ministry statement. The head of Prometheus Gas, a joint venture between Gazprom and Greece's Copelouzos group, also attended the meeting.
Unnamed sources, said later this month Prometheus Gas would be among companies bidding in the DEPA tender. At least 20 companies and funds have expressed an interest, including Spain's Gas Natural, Gaz de France, Italy's ENI and Austria's OMV.

In 2010, the DEPA group reported sales of EUR 1.22 bn and net profit of 90.8 mm. It has not yet published its 2011 results. Greece's largest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum, which holds a 35 % stake in DEPA, has put the book value of its stake at more than EUR 500 mm.
Greece's privatisation programme, originally intended to raise EUR 50 bn to help cut its crippling public debt burden, has been scaled back drastically in recent months as the overstretched administration has struggled to meet its targets.

Greece raised some EUR 1.7 bn from privatisations last year and hopes to get another 4.7 bn from selling stakes in assets including DEPA, DESFA, Hellenic Petroleum and betting firm OPAP this year. An official from the country's privatisation agency said Greece was expected to invite bidders for Hellenic Petroleum around mid-April.

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