More utilities added to the privatization front at talks

The country’s creditor representatives are demanding that the privatization agenda incorporated into the 2012 bailout agreement be fully implemented. Besides the inclusion of PPC, the Public Power Corporation, and its subsidiary firm IPTO, the power grid operator, as was reported yesterday by energypress, the creditors have now also added all of Greece’s main utilities to the list – DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation; ELPE, Hellenic Petroleum; as well as the equity share in telephony company OTE still under state control.

According to energypress sources in close touch with government officials, the PPC, IPTO, ELPE, and DEPA additions to the list of demands being set by creditors have emerged as a new development over the past few days. The course taken by the negotiations highlights the growing pressure being applied by creditor representatives in an effort to force the government to surrender its pre-election declarations that had firmly opposed any privatizations.

These latest additions bring the number of companies included on Greece’s privatization list to twenty, marking a full return to the privatization agenda that had been drafted by the country’s previous administration but never executed.

Creditor representatives are pressuring for privatization-generated revenues of 10 billion euros between 2015 and 2020.

Amid the ever-changing developments, to date, in the negotiating process, it now remains to be seen which of the demands will be embedded into the finalized list. All indicates that harsh privatization measures are looming. Besides the turmoil that would be stirred up amid the governing leftist Syriza party’s ranks by the prospect of PPC, IPTO, DEPA, and ELPE privatizations, certain well-informed pundits contend the 10 billion-euro target figure being demanded is unattainable amid the current market conditions.

The Greek state controls 51 percent of PPC and IPTO, 65 percent of DEPA, and 35.5 percent of ELPE.

A previous attempt to privatize DEPA was abandoned in 2013 after Russia’s Gazprom withdrew.

Creditor representatives argue that privatization proposals being made by the government for partial sales that would preserve majority equity shares for the state are not viable.