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BUCHAREST (Romania), January 19 (SeeNews) - The shareholders of Romanian gas transmission company Transgaz [BSE:TGN] on Friday endorsed a proposal to join forces with Spain's Regasificadora del Noroeste in order to take part in the second stage of a process for the procurement of a 66% stake in Greek gas transport operator DESFA, Transgaz said.
"The full responsibility for the compliance of the operation with the applicable legal regulations and approved budgetary provisions, for the negotiation and signing of the documents related to the association, for the organization and operation of the association so as not to cause damage to the company and the Romanian state belongs to Transgaz’ executive and administrative management," Transgaz said in a statement filed with the Bucharest Stock Exchange, BVB, after an extraordinary shareholders meeting.
This is Transgaz's second attempt to acquire the majority stake in DESFA in association with a partner. In August, Transgaz said that together with GRTgaz from France it had submitted a letter of intent for the acquisition, but their participation was rejected by consultants, as it was in conflict with European regulations on the matter.
The sale of the majority stake in DESFA, handled by Greece's Fund for the Development of Assets (HRADF), is part of the measures agreed by the Greek government with the European Commission and international lenders as part of the wider programme for the recovery of the Greek economy, Transgaz said in August. It is also confirmed as a key element of the reform package within the second revision of the Compliance Report prepared by the European Commission.
Rumors about Transgaz's interest in DESFA surfaced in December 2016, when Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported, citing unnamed sources, that the Romanian company was interested in taking over a 66% share package in DESFA after negotiations of the Greek government with Azerbaijan's SOCAR oil group failed.
In 2013, SOCAR won a tender for acquisition of 66% of DESFA for 400 million euro ($469 million), but following Greece's January 2015 parliamentary election, the offered stake was cut to 49%. The deal was expected to be concluded by August 2015.
DESFA's majority shareholder is the government of Greece with 65% and Hellenic Petroleum with 35%. SOCAR was to buy 31% of DESFA from the Greek government and 35% from Hellenic Petroleum.
In December 2016, the Greek government said that SOCAR's bid did not comply with its requirements and it had decided to terminate the negotiations.
At the end of September 2016, Transgaz and DESFA signed a memorandum of understanding, committing to address existing and future joint projects for gas transmission in full compliance with the EU law.
Regasificadora del Noroeste is a private company engaged in the transmission and regasification of natural gas in the northeastern part of Spain. It is 51% owned by Grupo Tojeiro. Besides Spain, the company is also present in France, Malta, Mozambique, Kuwait and Colombia.
Transgaz's shares traded flat at 423 lei on the BVB at 1244 CET on Friday.