ELTA prepares for full-on December entry into electricity market

ELTA (Hellenic Post), which has emerged as the first candidate to express an interest in acquiring a share of main power utility PPC’s clients, is planning to enter the electricity retail market in full force next month, according to sources.

The postal company, which holds an electricity supply license, will strive to combine its arrival into Greece’s retail electricity market with the acquisition of a share of PPC’s customer portfolio. PPC plans to split and sell a portion of its business in the form of at least one new retail company to be offered through a tender.

Market data provided by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator responsible for the operation of the wholesale electricity market, showed that ELTA supplied 1.879 MWh in October. Representing a market share of just 0.05 percent, this amount was presumably used to cover the electricity needs of ELTA’s business network.

Judging by the level of enthusiasm expressed by ELTA to take on a share of PPC’s clients, this subdued ELTA market share figure could soon experience a sudden boost.

PPC’s split-and-sale offer is expected to provide the prospective buyer with a market share of between 6 to 7 percent. This would instantly place the buyer well ahead of the pack of independent suppliers seeking to gain ground on PPC, still dominating the market with a share of just over 88 percent.

Latest figures provided by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, placed Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos corporate group, in second place with a 2.99 percent share in October.

The retail supply firm, or firms, to emerge from PPC’s split-and-sale plan could be sold in their entirety or majority stakes may be offered. Though many market officials appear hesitant, fearing that PPC may unload clients with serious arrears into the sale offer’s package, ELTA appears determined to press ahead.

PPC and ELTA have already established close ties, as they have publically admitted. ELTA officials have stressed their corporation will secure needed financing if a sustainable business plan is presented to creditors.

ELTA recently raised eyebrows by acquiring a 15 MWh amount of electricity at last month’s inaugural NOME auction, despite not having established a network of clients to which this amount can be sold.

ELTA officials believe that as a state-controlled company, ELTA – the Greek State holds a 90 percent stake and Eurobank Ergasias the other 10 percent – will be in an advantageous position to draw clients abandoning PPC. Bailout measures require PPC to significantly reduce its market share over the next few years.

The ELTA officials are also counting on the corporation’s extensive retail network of 1,500 outlets and agencies as  a vehicle that will help it penetrate the retail electricity market.

Besides ELTA, two more companies, KEN and Volton, are expected to soon enter the electricity retail market. The arrival of all three firms is expected to further reshuffle standings in the local electricity market.