IPTO certification procedure taking longer than expected

The certification procedure at IPTO, the power grid operator, a prerequisite for this subsidiary’s split from parent company PPC, the main power utility, and transfer of control to the Greek State is proving to be trickier than originally expected.

Despite recent efforts by local authorities, a delay to the procedure now appears highly likely. The certification procedure is being worked on concurrently with another effort aiming to list a new IPTO holding company on the bourse. This holding company now controls a 51 percent stake of the operator.

Two issues are believed to be holding up IPTO’s certification procedure. RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has yet to offer its needed approval as it has judged a recent related amendment as being insufficient. This amendment is meant to prevent IPTO’s control from being held by a state agency controlling PPC. Further security has been demanded to ensure the operator’s independence from the power utlity, in line with EU law.

In addition, the meticulousness displayed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition in its part of the overall process is also believed to be holding up the certification procedure.

The DG Comp is generally very cautious when handling cases that could ultimately offer non-EU companies management rights of companies managing European energy networks.

Such DG Comp meticulousness caused a major delay in Greece’s attempt to sell a 66 percent stake of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, to Azerbaijani energy firm Socar. This deal was eventually cancelled.

More recently, German, French and Italian officials have raised concerns over aggressive takeover attempts by Chinese firms for European enterprises of strategic importance.

The European Commission has examined the possibility of implementing protective measures against non-EU takeover intentions in the technology and defense domains.

Certain pundits believe that an agreement reached between PPC and China’s SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China) for the lattter’s acquisition of a 24 percent stake of IPTO could serve as a crash test for new protective policies adopted in Brussels.

The aforementioned developments make increasingly difficult the chances of IPTO’s certification process being completed within May. This would delay PPC’s badly needed 320 million-euro payment from SGCC for the 24 percent IPTO stake.