PPC cash reserves down €200m in 2 years, no sign of improvement

The main power utility PPC’s cash reserves shrunk by nearly 200 million euros between the first half of 2015 and the first half of 2017, without any solutions in sight for this amount’s reinstatement. The situation further highlights the utility’s cash flow problem.

PPC’s cash reserves totaled 701,987 euros in the first half of 2015, dropped to 574,567 euros in the first half of 2016, before falling further to 511,797 euros in the first half this year, a 27 percent drop over the two-year period.

The utility’s inability to boost its cash flow remains the corporation’s biggest problem, as highlighted by PPC’s stagnant unpaid receivables figure, unchanged over the past few months and stuck at an alarming level of 2.4 billion euros.

Broken down into categories, PPC’s unpaid receivables figure, in September, amounted to 1.66 billion euros in the low-voltage category; 331 million euros in the high-voltage category; 205 million euros in the medium-voltage category, while the total owed by the public sector to the state-controlled utility is 210 million euros.

In actual fact, PPC’s unpaid receivables figure is even higher than the aforementioned 2.4 billion-euro total as, the utility, for quite some time now, has not factored in amounts linked to monthly-installment payback agreements reached with customers. These arrangements, alone, are believed to be worth many millions of euros.

In comments accompanying a second-quarter financial report, PPC admitted that the percentage of its customers continuing to meet monthly installments of their payback agreements is “uncertain”.

PPC’s poor cash flow stands no chance of improving over the next few months. An extraordinary 172.2 million-euro cash injection provided by the recent sale of 24 percent of subsidiary IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, to SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China), provided temporary relief, as reflected by the utility’s first-half profit of 14.4 million euros.

Had this amount not been factored in, PPC would have incurred a loss of 148.5 million euros in the first half.

Likewise, the cash that stands to be raised by the utility through the bailout-required sale of lignite units next summer promises just temporary relief as the cash inflow will be generated by one-off sales.

Many pundits believe PPC, whose payroll numbers 19,000 staff members, remains an overstaffed enterprise.