February 29, 2012 / 9:02 AM / in 7 years

Greece invites bids for state gas group DEPA

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has invited bids for state-owned gas company DEPA, as it moves ahead with a privatization program targeted to raise 19 billion euros ($25.5 billion) by 2015.

According to an offer document published on Wednesday, the government is considering a “bundled” sale of DEPA, combining its wholesale, trading and gas supply business as well as its DESFA networks and liquefied natural gas arm, or an “unbundled” deal in which DESFA would be sold separately.

In either case, Greece, which owns a 65 percent stake in DEPA, would retain a 34 percent stake.

The deadline for bids is March 22.

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 privatization program, according to a ministry statement.

The head of Prometheus Gas, a joint venture between Gazprom and Greece’s Copelouzos group, also attended the meeting.

Greek daily Ta Nea, citing unnamed sources, said on Wednesday that Prometheus Gas would be among companies bidding for the DEPA tender.

According to the paper, at least 20 companies and funds have expressed an interest, including Spain’s Gas Natural, French Gas de France, Italy’s ENI and Austrian OMV.

Greece’s privatization program, originally intended to raise 50 billion euros 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. ($1 = 0.7450 euros)

Reporting By Tatiana Fragou and James Mackenzie; Editing by Jodie Ginsberg

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