May 16, 2018 / 1:45 PM / in 10 months

Greece presents alternative plan to privatise gas company DEPA

ATHENS, May 16 (Reuters) - Greece on Wednesday presented an alternative proposal to privatise its gas utility DEPA to its international lenders, hoping to reach an agreement later this week, its energy minister said on Wednesday.

The proposal was made as Athens and representatives from its European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors resumed talks on the country’s final bailout review, aiming to secure an initial agreement on the Greek reform progress by May 24.

After eight years of financial help by its lenders, Greece exits its third bailout programme in August.

“We submitted our proposal and there will be a consultation so that we conclude on Saturday,” Energy Minister George Stathakis told reporters after meeting mission chiefs from the EU and the IMF.

Under its bailout-mandated privatisation scheme, Greece should have launched the sale of its 65 percent stake in DEPA earlier this year.

But Athens proposed on Wednesday that DEPA be broken into two entities; one for the wholesale and retail gas supply business and the other for the distribution network and international activities, a source close to the matter said.

The aim is that Greece keeps a minority stake in the first company and a majority stake in the second one, the source added.

DEPA imports gas mainly from Russia and supplies power producers, big industries and households across Greece. It has teamed up with foreign firms for the construction of gas interconnections with Bulgaria and Italy. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, editing by Louise Heavens)

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