The Greek government is to divest a significant portion of its stake in the country's national gas company DEPA by the second half of 2007, according to the AFX news agency.

Quoting the AFX news agency as its source, the Global Insight news service reports that the government in Greece is to expand its recent state asset sell-off program into the energy sector by floating the state controlled gas group DEPA on the Athens Stock Exchange.

It is unclear how much of the Greek state’s 65% controlling share of DEPA will be sold, however the government will probably relinquish its controlling share.

The sale follows on from similar moves from the Athens government in the financial services sector, where state held stakes in banks have been offered to private buyers to reduce public debt.

According to reports, before its listing DEPA will be separated into distinct gas transmission and trading/supply groups, to meet with European Union directives.

Following the privatization, the Greek government plans to invest E1.5 billion into its domestic gas infrastructure network, while also offering tender licenses for regional operations in order to facilitate an expected tripling of demand by 2010.