Italy’s former monopolies, which are now strong multinationals, are planning a strategic “offense” for controlling transmission and distribution grids in power and natural gas.
After Snam’s entrance in DESFA with a 66% share and its control over gas transfer and storage infrastructure in Greece, other companies are ready to claim control of the Greek power grid such as Enel (the former Italian PPC) and Italgas (the former Italian DEPA), while the government’s proclaimed will is to extend ADMIE’s privatization, which has renewed Terna’s interest, the Italian power grid operator.
Terna’s interest for ADMIE
Terna participated in the first tender for ADMIE’s 66% which was not concluded, but also in the second one for 24%, where Chinese State Grid prevailed. Terna’s interest for ADMIE was communicated to the prime minister himself, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during his November 8 meeting in Athens with Terna’s CEO and general manager, Luigi Ferraris.
Even though the deal signed by State Grid in June, 2017, for acquiring 24% of ADMIE includes a preemptive right in the case of selling another public share, Terna appears to bet on the third energy package’s conditions to strictly control the presence of third countries’ companies in European infrastructure, as well as its own good relations with China. State Grid acquired its entrance in the Italian grids much earlier than ADMIE, by buying 35% of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Reti (CDP Reti) through which the parent company (CDP) controls 30% of Terna and Snam’s power and gas grids. Terna, as the biggest operator in the European south, aims to have a supervisory role in Mediterranean infrastructure and views Greece as a gateway to the east and the Balkans, while having developed the grid in Italy as well as over 25 interconnections with other countries.
Italgas for DEPA Infrastructure
Italgas, the largest natural gas supply company in Italy and the third largest in Europe, where the public still holds 26% through CDP, is also interested in the gas network that will be sold to a strategic investor through the privatization of DEPA Infrastructure’s 66%. While waiting for the forecoming tender, the Italian company appears to have agreed to buying EDA THESS through Eni gas e Luce, a subsidiary of Eni. Eni gas e Luce has confirmed its interest in exiting EDA THESS in order to enhance its presence in the retail gas and power market, where it participates in Greece through Zeniθ.
Enel for HEDNO
The former main power supplier in Italy, Enel, plans to enter the power grid through its subsidiary, Enel Green Power and awaits the government’s decisions to partly privatize HEDNO. It has operated for ten years in Greece and has invested about 500 million Euros in renewables, among them the pioneering wind project of Kafireas, which was inaugurated last month.
Enel Green Power is a pioneer in using the latest technology, such as energy storage in renewables. The Italian multinational groups’ interest for gas and power networks is connected to the upgraded role that this infrastructure is expected to play in the united European market, which provides the opportunity to cover demand with the cheapest possible kilowatt hour, regardless of its origin.