Energy ministry preparing draft bill for PPC units sell-off

Energy ministry officials are currently busy preparing a draft bill for the bailout-required sale of main power utility PPC lignite units with the aim of submitting the document to parliament within February for ratification.

The sale process has just undergone a market test, staged by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition to measure the level of investor interest and enable interested parties to settle queries. Interested parties were issued a related questionnaire.

Brussels is expected to provide market test feedback to the energy ministry within the current week, possibly today. The market test officially ended on December 22 but certain interested parties were given slight extensions after requesting additional time. The festive season also slowed down the process. Most interested parties are believed to have focused their concerns on the Greek electricity market’s long-term conditions covering at least the next 15 years.

Besides offering a rundown of the power utility’s lignite units up for sale – representing 40 percent of PPC’s lignite capacity – the ministry’s draft bill will also specify the sell-off procedure, the publication date of the international tender, expected in May, the timing of its launch, scheduled for June, as well as labor issues concerning overstaffed units included in the sale package.

The sale will offer two packages, one including PPC lignite assets in Greece’s north (Meliti I and a licence for the prospective Meliti II), and the other, units in the south (Megalopoli III and IV).

Though the ministry has yet to clarify the details to go into the draft bill’s section on labor rights, conditions that had been set for a previous unexecuted partial sale of PPC, locally dubbed “Little PPC”, are expected to apply for the new effort.

The older sale conditions committed the buyer, or buyers, to maintain the majority of jobs at units sold for a period of at least five years. All other employees would have been absorbed by PPC at other operations, according to the “Little PPC” sale plan’s labor conditions. Megalopoli employs 1,100 persons and Meliti a further 200.

Following the draft bill’s submission to Greek parliament in February, the planned legislation will need to be endorsed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition in March.