IPTO holding company mystery postponement sparks rumors

The state privatization fund TAIPED’s request yesterday for the postponement of a decision establishing a holding company that would take on a 51 percent share of IPTO, the power grid operator, as part of the operator’s complex sale procedure, strongly suggests that the sale effort has run into serious trouble, despite the fund’s attempt to play down the development by describing it as a procedural issue.

A series of meetings were held during the day between government, TAIPED, main power utility PPC officials, and advisers to resolve the issue. PPC is IPTO’s parent company.

The tight IPTO sale schedule gives officials until January 17, when a PPC shareholders meeting is planned, to resolve the issue, but, despite the alarm, a solution may be found as early as today.

Yesterday’s postponement, made during a PPC shareholders meeting, has sparked much speculation.

Though considerable progress has already been achieved in the IPTO sale – as highlighted by the choice of China’s SGCC as the winning bidder of an international tender offering a 24 percent stake in IPTO, and an agreement reached with the country’s lenders for the sale’s schedule – PPC appears to have certain doubts.

Even so, yesterday’s postponement is not believed to be linked to a counterproposal made by PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis for the subsidiary IPTO’s split and sale plan.

According to an agreement reached by the government and the country’s lenders, PPC is expected to transfer a 51 percent share of IPTO to a holding company whose equity capital, based on a company estimate, will be worth 491.8 million euros.

The Greek State and TAIPED control 51 percent of PPC – 34 percent and 17 percent respectively. The two will hold equivalent stakes in IPTO through the holding company.

The sale procedure will eventually lead to TAIPED taking control of an 8.5 percent of IPTO, a prospect that has raised the concerns of PPC union members and the administration. They fear that the government’s objective of retaining 51 percent of IPTO for the Greek State could easily be derailed.