Greece expects Hellenic Petroleum bids next month: source

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece expects to get final bids for a majority stake in its biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum HEPr.AT next month after a key regulatory decision on the process, a source close to the sale said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Hellenic Petroleum refineries at Aspropyrgos town, west of Athens, February 24, 2012. REUTERS/John Kolesidis/File Photo

The country's privatization agency has shortlisted Anglo-Swiss Glencore Energy GLEN.L and Switzerland's Vitol Holding as potential buyers of a 50.1 percent stake in Hellenic that Greece and Paneuropean Oil and Industrial Holdings are jointly selling.

The sale is part of a privatization plan that Athens and its lenders have agreed under the country’s last bailout which ended in August. The country aims to raise 2 billion euros ($2.30 billion) from the asset sales plan this year and another 3 billion next year.

An official close to the sale said that bids for Hellenic were expected to be submitted “towards the end of November” after the country’s securities regulator decides whether the prospective buyer will have to make a mandatory offer to buy the remaining shares.

Paneuropean Oil owns 45.5 percent and the Greek government holds a 35.5 percent stake in Hellenic which has a current market value of 2.1 billion euros, according to Refinitiv’s Eikon data.

Greece and Paneuropean Oil want to maintain a stake of about 15 percent each in Hellenic after the sale.

Under Greek law, an investor who acquires more than a third of a company’s shares needs to make a tender offer for the remaining stake unless the company is being privatized, which is the case with Hellenic.

But the securities regulator’s legal advisers have argued that a mandatory offer will be needed since the stake is being sold jointly by the state and a private investor, the official said.

The official said the regulator would decide on the issue “soon” and definitely before the final bids. “Investors want to know what level of financing will be needed.”

($1 = 0.8705 euros)

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou. Editing by Michele Kambas and Jane Merriman