PPC board to meet via teleconference, union aims to stop lignite units sale

The main power utility PPC board’s members, unable to meet today at the company headquarters, currently occupied by the Genop union, will stage a teleconference session for a vote on a bailout-required split-and-sale plan of lignite units representing 40 percent of the utility’s lignite capacity.

The power utility’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis will present the plan’s details before board members express opinions and cast their votes. The PPC board’s decision to resort to a teleconference for such a significant company matter is unprecedented at the utility.

Over the past few days, the Genop union has sought ways to stop today’s board meeting. Though any intervention that could obstruct today’s teleconference is seen as difficult to achieve, the union is capable of conjuring up surprises.

Most likely, Genop will aim to delay a series of PPC board decisions leading to the announcement of the sale’s tender, scheduled for May 31. This essentially means that the power utility’s board will, from now on, need to grow accustomed to the idea of staging its lignite unit sale meetings as teleconference sessions.

The board will need to convene again on May 23 to reendorse terms concerning the split of lignite units and related accounting matters, and, most importantly, launch the tender.

A PPC general shareholders’ meeting on June 26 is an obvious target date for the union. On this day, shareholders are scheduled to meet and endorse the split plan, establish statutes for two new subsidiaries – carrying the lignite units – to be offered to investors, and also endorse representatives involved in the procedure.

PPC and the government will find themselves under bailout-related pressure if the international tender is launched in June or July, rather than May 31, as is scheduled, following Genop delays.

Contracts concerning the split plan and company statutes are planned to be signed a few days after the June 26 general shareholders’ meeting. This will end the first chapter of events targeted by the Genop union.

The union can then be expected to take aim again late in the year, when the international tender is scheduled to be completed – assuming investors do participate and meet the price tag to be set by valuators.

A third round of action by the union should be expected once the new owners of the lignite units arrive to take over. Genop has pledged it will prevent any new owners from operating the facilities.

It should be noted that if the international tender proves fruitless then Brussels officials will enter the picture and retable the idea of including PPC hydropower units to the sale. This is a dreaded thought for the government, which, in such a case, will seek to apply delay tactics, with reliable support from Genop. Next year’s pre-election period could seriously rattle the overall sale effort if it is delayed.