British media say that two Russian companies lead the bidding race even though the US strongly opposes opening the Greek market to Russians.
Russia’s Gazprom and Sintez, a private natural gas company, have raised more than €1.5bn for a 65% share in DEPA.
The winner will control DEPA and its subsidiary DESFA. Gazprom already uses DEPA capacities to supply some 90% of the Greek-bound gas, so the deal is quite attractive as it will bring Russia’s gas giant directly to Greek consumers, says Rustam Tankaev expert of Russia’s Oil and Gas Industrialists Union.
"It is a great opportunity to enter the Greek market so the company is worth the price."
The US is not the only barrier to the deal, says the head of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements Vasily Koltashov.
"The EU has a hidden practice limiting Russian acquisitions of major assets despite all claims about economic transparency and liberalism in the EU and the WTO. Russia has already faced such problems."
However, the crisis has its say and there are not that many European bidders, says oil and gas analyst Andrey Polishchuk.
"Russian companies have good chances to seal the deal as there will be not so many bidders. European companies are not prepared to risk and spend money on transmission and distribution companies as their cost-effectiveness is rather low. Maybe today only Russian companies are ready to pay more to get access to European consumers."
Another factor is that time is ticking out for Greece as the DEPA sale is part of privatization to meet targets set by international money-givers. In this situation, the Greek government could well accept an offer they can’t refuse.