PPC, ELPE, DEPA not spared of privatizations, as of 2017

Despite latest claims as recent as yesterday by energy ministry officials denying the prospect, PPC, the main power utility (17%), ELPE, Hellenic Petroleum (35%), and DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation (65%), will be included on the country’s privatizations list but their respective stakes will not be placed for sale any sooner than 2017.

The three energy firms were included on TAIPED’s (State Privatization Fund) disputed list of 19 privatizations, which was published in the government gazette yesterday, making their sale plans official.

According to the schedule, TAIPED will need to appoint consultants, who will shape the sale methods for all three energy companies, by the third quarter of this year.

Of the three energy firms, PPC’s 17 percent appears to be headed for the fastest sale and could even be placed in the market within the current year, according to TAIPED’s Asset Development Plan. However, such an early move is considered highly unlikely for many reasons, one of these being the pending split and sale of its subsidiary firm IPTO, the power grid operator.

Energypress sources informed that the international tender for the sale of PPC’s 17 percent will be announced in 2017 or 2018, assuming economic and stock exchange conditions allow.

The sale of a 20 pecent share of IPTO to a strategic investor and listing of 29 percent of the operator on the Athens Stock Exchange will both need to be completed before any progress can be made on the PPC sale front.

The privatizations of ELPE and DEPA could prove extremely complicated. ELPE holds a 35 percent stake in DEPA, while the Latsis group controls a 42 percent share of ELPE. The prospects of both these privatizations are interlinked, as was made clear in 2014, when the country’s previous coalition looked into the issue.

The intertwined standing of ELPE and DEPA serves the interests of energy minister Panos Skourletis as considerable time will be needed for preliminary procedures to set up their sales.

Perhaps energy ministry officials were alluding to this yesterday when stating that “energy-sector privatizations are not a priority and no relevant planning has been made.”

These ministry officials said the privatization plan’s objective of raising 6.2 billion euros by 2018 will be pursued through the sale and utilization of public assets that are not regarded as strategically important, excluding PPC, DEPA, and ELPE from the picture.