Roles of key energy firms in privatization plan imminent

It is now a matter of time – four months at most – before the roles of main power utility PPC’s 17 percent equity share, DEPA (Public Gas Corporation), and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), in the country’s privatization program, are determined.

All three now belong to the current portfolio of TAIPED, the State Privatization Fund, and will be utilized through a new and revised privatization fund in the making, based on lender demands.

Last Friday’s Eurogroup announcement, released once the new bailout agreement for Greece had been approved, places great importance on the 50 billion euros expected to be raised through privatizations. It calls on Greek officials to have endorsed a plan for the country’s new privatization fund by the end of October so that it may be ready to run before the year is out.

Practically speaking, this means that a clear picture will be required within the next four months on the first package of assets to be included in this new privatization fund, and whether these assets will include state-controlled energy companies.

To date, the government has trumpeted the fact that it has managed to avoid the privatizations of IPTO, the power grid operator, and “Little PPC” – the proposed break-away and sale of a 30 percent share of PPC. However, government officials have refrained from mentioning anything about the energy companies placed under TAIPED’s wings. At present, it remains unclear which of these assets will be tranfered to the new privatization fund. Government officials will begin discussions on this matter within the next few weeks, but it has become clear the country’s lenders will have the final say in the matter.

Whatever the outcome, the energy companies currently belonging to the TAIPED fund will not remain unaffected. The Eurogroup, in its announcement, called for improved performances from all state-run companies, based on OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) models, with the objective of boosting their market value and making them more attractive prospects for investors.

The Eurogroup’s deadline for the launch of the country’s new privatization fund is much tighter than the preceding option presented in the bailout agreement. The Eurogroup wants the new fund up and running by the end of this year, while the bailout agreement had offered an additional three months.

The new fund will also include bank shares following the recapitalization of Greece’s banks.

Meanwhile, last Thursday night, prior to Greek Parliament’s approval of the bailout agreement, TAIPED convened and announced deadlines for some of the four international tenders currently in progress, which, judging by developments, will be the last to be staged under the current TAIPED-based format.

Offers for the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) will need to be submitted by this October. A December deadline was set for the railway company TRAINOSE and its subsidiary Rosco, a supplier of railway equipment. A deadline for offers concerning the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH) is expected to be announced within the next few days.