By Nigar Abbasova
The management of Azerbaijan’s state energy giant SOCAR will soon discuss the issue of closing a deal on the acquisition of a 66 percent share in the Greek gas operator DESFA.
Head of SOCAR, Rovnag Abdullayev said that the meeting with the Greek government is scheduled for late September.
“I am not eager to keep discussing the issue now or spread rumors, as we are respectful to the Greek side. We have been engaged in talks and are currently waiting for return offers. All further details will be defined in the upcoming meeting,” he said.
SOCAR won a tender in 2013 on the purchase of a 66-percent stake in DESFA for 400 million euros ($446.3 million) but the acquisition was stalled, when SOCAR faced EU’s anti-trust concerns and was ordered to sell 17 percent of DESFA to a third party, so that its stake drops to 49 percent and satisfy EU competition authorities. Greece passed a law in July which raised DESFA's gas tariffs, further complicating the sale.
SOCAR hopes it can overcome the EU obstacles, as Italy’s Snam SpA may purchase at least required 17 percent of shares. Italian operator seeks to be a part of privatization of the DESFA. Spam’s representative reportedly held a meeting with the representatives of Greece’s Energy Ministry and confirmed the position of the company.
Azerbaijan's Energy Minister Natig Aliyev earlier said that the deal on SOCAR's purchasing the 66-percent share in Greece's DESFA will be completed after Italy's Snam purchases 17 percent of that share.
Sale of DESFA is part of a privatization programme required under Greece's three international bailouts since 2010.
Nigar Abbasova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @nigyar_abbasova
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