Russia backs away from Greek energy sector

June 11, 2013 at 8:37 AM

MOSCOW, June 11 (UPI) -- Russian natural gas company Gazprom said it won't pursue an interest in a Greek energy company because of long-term financial concerns.

Gazprom announced it wouldn't take part in the privatization of Greek natural gas company Public Gas Corp., known by its Greek initials DEPA.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov was quoted by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti as saying there were outstanding concerns about the long-term financial health of DEPA.

"We have not received sufficient guarantees that DEPA's financial position will not deteriorate by the time the transaction is closed," he said Monday.

Gazprom said it expected any deal would take about a year to close.

DEPA privatization was part of a plan by the Greek government to sell off assets as a condition for a bailout program backed by European lenders and the International Monetary Fund.

Gazprom in May made a preliminary bid for DEPA. Director of Greek think tank Eliamep Thanos Dokos told the British newspaper The Guardian the Russian deal could have faced stiff opposition from European leaders wary of Russia's role in the regional energy sector.

"I think the message the Russians got, especially from the European Commission, was that the deal was not going to be approved," he said.

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