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UPDATE 1-Greece wants to sell smaller stake in gas grid operator - paper
January 11, 2017 / 1:59 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Greece wants to sell smaller stake in gas grid operator - paper

(Adds energy ministry official)

ATHENS, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Greece wants to keep a majority stake in its gas grid operator DESFA and sell only a small holding to investors after a previous plan to sell a 66 percent stake collapsed, a Greek newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Under its privatisation programme, a key 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 euros ($422 million).

The energy ministry was not immediately available for comment, but when asked about the Kathimerini report, a senior ministry official said “everything is being examined.”

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

Asked if there would be a new tender, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “De facto.”

Greece’s energy ministry has proposed to its lenders a new plan under which the country would maintain a 51 percent stake in DESFA and divest just 14 percent to investors, Kathimerini reported. But the official said the precise model would be decided with its lenders as part of ongoing negotiations under its bailout review.

Greece’s privatisation agency currently holds 65 percent in DESFA and Hellenic Petroleum owns the rest.

Greece is expected to have missed its 2.5 billion euros bailout target for privatisation proceeds last year and to have raised only 500 million euros, according to its 2017 budget.

It expected revenues of 2.6 billion euros from the scheme this year, including 180 million euros from the DESFA sale.

$1 = 0.9472 euros Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Susan Thomas

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