New Democracy Looking to Sell State Gas Company DEPA

In this Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, smoke is emitted from the chimneys of Agios Dimitrios Public Power Plant near Kozani town, northern Greece. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – With Greece’s state-run electric company Public Power Corporation (PPC) on the verge of going under because of unpaid bills, the new New Democracy government is mulling whether to privatize the state-controlled gas company DEPA and sell it 100 percent, lock, stock and barrel.

That would be under a faster privatization plan to meet the demands of the country’s creditors who put up 326 billion euros ($360.73 billion) in three bailouts that ended on Aug. 20, 2018 but  Energy Ministry sources cited by state-run news agency ANA-MPA said the stake of a sell-off would be raised from 50.1 percent in the commercial operations to have a private company take it over completely instead if a buyer can be found.

The previous ruling Radical Left SYRIZA passed a law which split DEPA into two companies, one for its wholesale and retail gas supply business and the other for its distribution network and international activities.

Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said earlier in September he would soon amend that law to allow for the sale of majority stakes both in DEPA’s retail operations and its distribution grid as he’s also struggling to save PPC.

DEPA will be the first energy company to be privatized, and will be followed by the profit-making  (HELPE) in which the state will maintain a share interest, and the partial privatization of Greece’s power distribution agency (DEDDIE) after all legal pending issues are settled. The state owns 65 percent of DEPA and HELPE owns another 35 percent.