Japan’s Hitachi widens Asian interest in PPC unit sale plan

Though European interest in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required unit sale package, until now a lignite-only offer, has remained limited to investors from the continent’s east, Asian interest is broadening, as suggested by Japanese consideration following Chinese.

Japan’s Hitachi corporate group, which has taken on constructing the utility’s Ptolemaida IV, a project budgeted at 1.4 billion euros, is also eyeing the PPC units sale, sources have informed.

It is believed the Japanese company’s buying interest is combined with an interest to upgrade ageing PPC units and construct new ones, key activities at Hitachi Power Europe. Interestingly, Japanese investors are extremely selective in their investment choices, as is highlighted by the country’s limited Greek market presence.

Meanwhile, Greek officials, including government and PPC authorities, are continuing their negotiations with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition over the units to be included in the utility’s sale package.

Certain sources are claiming that Brussels authorities have eased up on previous objections concerning the inclusion of a Meliti unit license into the sale package. DG Comp authorities have questioned whether the sale of a permit to build represents a disinvestment move. This Meliti license is now seen as an asset by DG Comp officials, sources noted.

It remains to be seen whether PPC’s Amynteo or Megalopoli lignite-fired facilities will be included in the package. Greek officials believe the Amynteo unit proposal fully satisfies the procedure’s requirements, rendering any talk of Megalopoli’s inclusion into the sale package as unnecessary. Even so, Greek officials are fully aware of the fact that Brussels, not yet convinced of the local PPC unit sale proposal, has kept Megalopoli on the negotiating table.

Brussels sees the inclusion of the Amynteo facility as a costly option as this unit is ageing and requires an 80 million-euro revamp. Of course, if performed, the facility’s lifespan would be extended to 2035.