Government scrambling to avoid 17% privatization of PPC

The future of a 17 percent stake of main power utility PPC listed for privatization by TAIPED, Greece’s existing yet soon-to-be-replaced State Privatization Fund, is unclear following a series of erratic moves made by the government ahead of this Sunday’s parliamentary vote on a superbill of various extra measures required as part of the effort to complete the first review of Greece’s third bailout package.

The government seems to be attempting to transfer PPC’s 17 percent to the Public Holding Company (EDIS), now being formed, in an affort to avoid or delay the sale.

Transfer of enterprises to the new super privatization fund’s Public Holding Company (EDIS) will essentially avert their short-term privatizations. However, privatizations could be carried out during a second stage, when conditions are considered more favorable.

The government’s bargaining with the country’s creditors on privatizations is still not over. It is scrambling to avoid privatizations of politically sensitive cases ahead of Sunday’s vote. PPC, along with EYDAP, the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Company, and EYATH, the Thessaloniki Water Company, were yesterday transferred back and forth from TAIPED to the new EDIS Public Holding Company’s list.

Pundits interpreted the indecision as an attempt by the government’s top officials to confuse its MPs as a means of restricting reaction within the Syriza party against the establishment of the new super privatization fund and its resulting increased pressure for privatizations.

Besides TAIPED, the new fund will take under its wings the Financial Stability Fund (THS), the Public Property Company (ETAD), as well as the Public Holding Company (EDIS), now being formed.

Though the future of PPC’s 17 percent is unclear, it appears that the privatization plans for a 65 percent sale of DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, and 35 percent sale of ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) will not be averted.