Global hydropower giant moves into IPTO sale picture

As strategic investors make final preparations to submit binding offers by an October 12 deadline for a 24 percent stake of IPTO, the power grid operator, on offer through a tight-scheduled international tender, France’s RTE appears to be setting up a partnership with Canada’s Hydro-Quebec, an international energy force.

RTE has shown subdued interest in the sale until now, but a partnership with Hydro-Quebec, a Montreal-based corporation responsible for the production, transmission and distribution of electricity in Quebec, would elevate its IPTO candidacy.

Possessing 61 hydropower stations, one nuclear facility and employing 19,800 persons, Hydro-Quebec ranks as Canada’s main electricity producer and the world’s biggest hydropower producer. Hydro-Quebec’s total installed production capacity stands at 36,912 MW, 99 percent of which is generated by renewable energy sources, while the corporation serves 4.06 million customers.

Two other corporations, Italy’s Terna and China’s State Grid International Development, have qualified for the IPTO sale’s second round, providing them with access to the Greek operator’s virtual data room as part of their due diligence procedures. The virtual data room has just closed.

Terna is believed to be preparing to bid alone, but a joint bid with fellow Italian firm F2i has not been ruled out. There is no indication of any partnership in the making at China’s State Grid International Development for the IPTO tender.

Greece’s main power utility PPC, IPTO’s parent company, is optimistic that three bids may be submitted, which could instigate a bidding war.

Meanhwhile, an independent evaluator, commissioned by PPC, has begun work on estimating the operator’s market value. The resulting report will be handed over to PPC for a clearer picture.

“It’s only natural that we examine whether the offers to be made are reasonable,” a PPC official commented yesterday, implying that improved offers will be requested by the operator’s parent company if necessary.