ATHENS, June 11 Greece plans to ask foreign
lenders to reset its asset sales target as its failure to sell
natural gas firm DEPA means it will fall short of its goal this
year, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
Greece will miss its asset sale target by roughly 1 billion
euros this year after its privatisation schedule was derailed
again on Monday when Russian energy giant Gazprom
withdrew from the running to buy DEPA.
The sale had initially been expected to raise as much as 1
billion euros and Athens will ask the European Union and the
International Monetary Fund to postpone raising that sum to
"It is very difficult to cover the 1 billion euros we
expected to raise from DEPA," the official told Reuters on
condition of anonymity. "We will ask the creditors to push back
those receipts to 2014," he said.
Under the terms of its EU/IMF bailout, Athens has a binding
target to raise at least 1.8 billion euros from privatisation
revenues by the end of September and an indicative one to raise
at least 2.5 billion euros by the end of this year.
However, Athens has fallen well short of all the ambitious
privatisation goals it was given since its first bailout in
mid-2010. It has raised just about 2 billion euros over the past
two years, a fraction of the amounts initially targeted.
It got off to a good start earlier this year by agreeing to
sell gambling firm OPAP for 652 million euros.
Gazprom's surprise withdrawal from the running to
buy DEPA, however, left Greece without a single suitor for the
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras ruled out taking new
austerity measures to compensate for the shortfall.
"There are many people who say there will be (austerity)
measures - it's ludicrous," he told a news conference on
While the asset sales targets are binding, Greece is on
track to meet its budget targets for this year, which may give
it leeway to renegotiate its privatisation goals.
Greek officials have suggested that the European Commission
may be to blame for Gazprom's withdrawal, saying the Russian
firm was probably concerned that EU regulators would impose
stringent conditions on the deal.
"(Gazprom's withdrawal) had to do with reasons that were
above and beyond us," Samaras said. The Russian company said on
Monday it withdrew because it was worried about the company's
Senior EU/IMF officials are currently in Athens to review
implementation of Greece's reform plan. Deputy Energy Minister
Assimakis Papageorgiou said on Monday he did not expect any
privatisation shortfall to cause any problems in the talks.