Greece: EU Commission blocks Desfa sale to Azerbaijani Socar

Over concerns of breaching legislation on competition

07 November, 11:16

    (ANSAmed) - ATHENS, NOVEMBER 7 - The European Commission has announced an investigation into the sale of the National Natural Gas System Operator (Desfa) to Azerbaijani Socas, in order to determine whether the sale conflicts with European legislation on mergers. According to an EC press release, as To Vima online reported, there are concerns "that the transaction may reduce competition on the upstream wholesale supply market for natural gas in Greece because it could allow the merged entity to hinder Socar's competitors in accessing the Greek gas transmission network". A preliminary investigation into the proposed sale of Desfa has shown that Socar may have an "incentive to shut out competitors from access to the network", which in turn would result in fewer potential natural gas suppliers and thus higher gas prices for consumers. The press release notes that the aim of the investigation is to ensure that "the sale of Desfa, part of the Greek government privatization programme with a view to modernize and liberalize the energy markets, does not result in competitive harm and ultimately higher gas prices for consumers in Greece" and that a decision will be made by the 23rd of March 2015.(ANSAmed).

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