Lenders demanding PPC 17% sale, management surrender

The country’s lenders are demanding an acceleration of procedures leading to the sale of main power utility PPC’s 17 percent and surrender of the utility’s management to the strategic investor, latest developments have indicated.

According to sources, these demands, made yesterday during a teleconference between Greece’s alternate finance minister Giorgos Houliarakis and creditor representatives, will be included as yet another prior action needed for completion of the bailout’s second review.

Greek government officials contend that PPC’s low market capitalization serves as a hindrance for this plan. At this point in time, the sale of PPC’s 17 percent would rake in a mere 100 million euros, based on the utility’s current share price.

PPC’s market value, based on the share price, was worth 593.9 million euros yesterday, down from 684.4 million euros a month ago and 846.8 million euros a year earlier.

Highlighting how poor these figures are, as well as the severity of the utility’s financial state and how intertwined its fate is with the Greek economy, PPC – a corporation whose assets are worth a total 17 billion euros and which possesses 20 thermal units, 22 hydropower stations and 31 power stations on islands, while also holding an 89 percent electricity retail market share – is currently estimated to be worth 42 percent of a single new coal-fired power station investment, now being developed at a cost of 1.4 billion euros, in Ptolemaida, northern Greece.

At this stage, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis appears to be following in the footsteps of his predecessor Panos Skourletis and striving to have PPC’s 17 percent placed in the prospective super privatizations fund, which will include a subsidiary holding company avoiding direct privatization. Such a move does not necessarily mean that PPC will be spared of the part-privatization demanded by the lenders. Similar protective efforts in the past have failed to avoid privatizations, OLP, the Piraeus Port Authority, being a glaring example.