Minority stakes safest way for Chinese investors eyeing PPC units

Chinese firms expected to express an interest in acquiring main power utility PPC lignite units to soon be placed for sale, a bailout requirement, will need to buy as minority shareholders of consortiums featuring Greek or European players so as to avoid encountering European Commission competition regulation problems.

Chinese offers will need to be based on models similar to that adopted for SGCC’s 24 percent acquisition of IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, to avoid problems in Brussels, pundits told energypress.

The European Commission is maintaining a defensive stance against Chinese energy sector investors as most firms are state controlled. Protective measures by Brussels, existing and prospective, aiming to safeguard the EU from China’s expansionary drive, could run contrary to Greece’s PPC plans.

Many Greek government officials believe that an understanding ought to be established between Greece and Europe that could stretch beyond serving the interests of major EU member states, exclusively, and, rather offer wider benefits for all involved.

Keen to keep attracting Chinese investments, the Greek government believes the role of Athens should be an intermediary one bridging gaps between China and the EU. The adoption of protectionist policies by the EU, in reaction to China’s plans to broaden its interests, does not befit Europe’s declared policies, the Greek government supports.

Whether Brussels is prepared to show some leniency for the anticipated Chinese interest in PPC’s lignite units remains to be seen. China, too, is well aware of the hurdles and can be expected to tread carefully, through minority stakes in consortiums.

Various scenarios being tossed about will acquire more definite shape this coming autumn when a market test is held to determine the potential buyers, and their respective levels of investor interest, with regards to PPC’s attempt to sell lignite units.