Greece launches privatisation of gas supplier DEPA Commercial

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece launched on Thursday the sale of a majority stake in state-controlled gas utility DEPA’s wholesale and retail business, its privatisation agency said.

The Greek government is selling a 65% stake in DEPA Commercial as part of the terms of the country’s final EU/IMF bailout.

Hellenic Petroleum, Greece’s biggest oil refiner holds the remaining 35% stake in the gas utility.

According to the tender document published by the privatisation agency, the preferred investor will also have the option to acquire Hellenic’s stake in DEPA Commercial.

The agency set a March 6 deadline for the submission of non-binding bids.

DEPA has been Greece’s dominant importer of pipeline and liquefied natural gas via long-term supply contracts, and its main gas supplier, with more than 350,000 retail customers in the wider Athens area.

Under its latest bailout which expired in 2018, Greece agreed to further privatise DEPA to help open up the market.

To achieve that, DEPA will be broken up in DEPA Commercial for wholesale and retail activities, and DEPA Infrastructure, which owns the distribution network to end-users.

Greece last year launched the sale of a 100% stake in DEPA Infrastructure, and set a Feb. 14 deadline for the submission of initial offers.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Susan Fenton