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Greece says gas utility sale frozen over legal issues

By Reuters

ATHENS – Greece has postponed the sale of its majority stake in dominant gas utility DEPA Commercial over litigation issues, its privatisation agency said on Monday.

The Greek privatisation agency short-listed seven investors for a 65% stake in DEPA Commercial in 2020. Last year, it delayed a bid deadline for the utility due to outstanding litigation between DEPA and another Greek firm over gas prices.

Under a revised privatisation plan published on Monday, the agency said it suspended the sale due to legal implications and that it was evaluating alternative scenarios, taking into account international developments.

DEPA Commercial, which is 65%-owned by the state, has a long-term gas supply contract with Russia’s Gazprom.

Athens has raised a total of 7.6 billion euros ($8.02 billion) from privatisations since 2011, a key plank of its three international bailouts which ended in 2018.

Under a post-bailout surveillance programme, the country has promised to stick to its privatisation drive to help reduce debt, which remains the euro zone’s highest, and overhaul state companies to boost economic growth.

Binding offers for the sale of majority stakes in the ports of Alexandroupolis and Igoumenitsa in northern and western Greece are expected to be submitted by June, the agency said.

($1 = 0.9477 euros)