Swift progress needed for IPTO sale; SGCC officials in Athens

European Commission certification issues concerning the split of IPTO, the power grid operator, from parent company PPC, the main power utility – for the sale of a 49 percent stake of the operator to private-sector investors, including a 24 percent share to SGCC, the State Grid Corporation of China, the winning bidder of a recent international tender – will need to be dealt with swiftly and efficiently if the sale procedure is to remain on track.

Certification procedures, a key part of the sale, will need to be finalized, or have hit the final stretch with all maters resolved, by the end of March.

A number of officials believe the target date set by Greece’s lenders is not attainable.

As recently highlighted by Greece’s failed attempt to sell a 66 percent share of DESFA, the natural gas grid operator, certification issues are crucial to the chances of this sale’s success.

In the case of IPTO, certification procedures are expected to be less challenging as the Chinese energy giant SGCC, the strategic investor expected to acquire 24 percent of IPTO in the sale’s first stage before a further 25 percent is offered to investors through the bourse, has already secured EU certification as a result of its stake held in Portuguese firm EDP.

The main priority at this stage is to establish a holding company to be listed on the bourse. Consulting firm Deloitte has already begun work on complex technical aspects linked to IPTO’s bourse listing.

SGCC officials are currently in Athens to work on various matters concerning the 24 percent acquisition of the Greek operator.

If the attempt to privatize a 49 percent share of IPTO fails, then PPC will need to sell its entire 100 percent share of the operator.