PPC scouring southeast Europe markets for opportunities

Power utility PPC, on a mission, in recent months, to seek investment opportunities in neighboring countries, is carefully planning its first expedition abroad after some time.

Although PPC’s new three-year business plan does not specifically reference investment plans abroad, the company’s interest in other markets has become apparent.

PPC is striving to become a modern corporation and market leader in southeast Europe by 2030, the power utility’s chief executive Giorgos Stassis told a Bloomberg event late last week.

Potential projects on the corporation’s radar include North Macedonia’s Cebren hydropower facility, a 500-600 million-euro project for which PPC has entered a tender with Archirodon as its partner, and, further ahead, RES investments.

Establishing oneself as a dominant player in the southeast European market is a major challenge as highlighted by the participation of ten consortiums, big names included, in the Cebren hydropower plant tender, the latest following a total of ten preceding procedures for this project, all fruitless.

A proportion of PPC’s 1.1 billion-euro EBITDA target for 2023 could be generated by business activities beyond Greece.

The power utility has assembled a working group tasked with scouring foreign-market opportunities in all sectors, including hydropower, photovoltaics, other RES technologies, project tenders, as well as acquisitions.

PPC has made a series of unsuccessful investment quests over the past 18 years, beginning with Romania’s privatization tender, in 2003, for electricity distributors Electrica Banat and Electrica Dabrogea. PPC had advanced to this procedure’s second round but ultimately lost to Italian powerhouse Enel.

Gov’t plans special court divisions for fast-track energy dispute hearings

Jurisdiction of energy-sector disputes will be transferred to special court divisions facilitating fast-track priority hearings, the objective being to end major delays holding back energy investment plans, according to a Ministry of Justice draft bill believed to be headed for Greek Parliament within the next few days.

Besides the energy sector, Greek judicial-system delays have plagued business plans across the board.

The government, through the justice ministry’s draft bill, intends to make incisive revisions that would transform the legal system into a tool for economic growth rather than a deterrent.

RES plan official processing prioritized in 5 categories

A ministerial decision prioritizing RES investment plan processing by authorities has just been signed by deputy energy minister Gerassimos Thomas.

The decision prioritizes processing of RES investment plans – applications and provision of connection terms – in five categories. Priority levels are determined by EU regulations and the contribution potential of investment plans to the National Energy and Climate Plan.

Green energy investments facilitating network utilization, such as self production, are promised top-priority categorization. This also applies for investments concerning energy efficiency, waste management and biogas.

Energy community investment applications will be given a one-month advantage in the waiting line. In other words, such applications will be examined as if submitted a month earlier.

Energy community plans involving local government organizations or over 60 members are promised an even bigger time advantage of four months.

Priority processing will also be offered to investment plans in northern Greece’s west Macedonia region, whose lignite-dependent local economy must be restructured as a result of the government’s decarbonization effort.

Delays, uncertainty freezing wind energy investments

Foreign and Greek enterprises active in Greece’s wind energy market are feeling ambivalent about the sector’s investment prospects.

On the one hand, officials at wind-energy sector firms believe that, under certain circumstances, a new wave of investments could develop in the near future as signs of change in the Greek economy could be emerging, various noteable projects are set for development, and access to bank capital is beginning to improve, even if just hesitantly.

On the other hand, sector investors fear that if procedures for the renewable energy sector’s new institutional framework do not swiften and the government fails to take decisive initiatives to promote investment activity then not only will the new wave of investments not arrive but, on the contrary, the country will risk falling into a new period of stagnancy.

Meanwhile, Greece has fallen far behind in the effort to attain national objectives set for wind-energy penetration and RES development, overall, by 2020. Also, numerous wind-energy investment opportunities exist in foreign markets.

The delayed finalization of the RES-supporting draft law, alone, is cause for serious concern among wind-energy sector investors, and also a reason for investment activity to be halted.

Wind-energy officials are also concerned about the content in the energy ministry’s draft law for the RES sector, as it appeared when forwarded for public consultation procedures in March, as well as in its latest form, based on leaked information.

Officials feel unsettled as it is unclear whether competitive procedures will apply for the wind-energy sector, through which specific capacities will be installed and prices determined for energy output absorbed.


Local industrialists set to invest as soon as conditions stabilize

A large number of local entrpreneurs, especially industrialists active in the fields of energy, infrastructure and manufacturing, are keen to make investments as soon as conditions allow, judging by the content of speeches, as well as the sideline talk, at a SEV (Hellenic Association of Industrialists) conference staged at the Athens Hilton.

Mihalis Stasinopoulos, chief at Elval (Hellenic Aluminium Industry) and the Viohalco group, who usually avoids public events, as well as other prominent entrepreneurs, among them Evangelos Mytilineos, chief exectutive at the Mytilineos corporate group, participated.

Political stability and Greek State consistency are essential factors for improved conditions that can once again attract capital and investments, it was reiterated.

Mytilineos pointed out that the ruling Syriza leftist-led coalition and main opposition conservative New Democracy party’s shared pro-EU outlook and support for reforms offers stability and a predictable business environment, necessary traits for long-term investments.

Industrialist Spyros Theodoropoulos, head of Chipita, underlined that the managerial ability, versatility, decisiveness, and strength displayed by Greek enterprises that managed to establish themselves internationally amid the crisis stands as their greatest asset.

A number of entrepreneurs appear ready to invest, conditions permitting. The Mytilineos group, for example, is preparing to invest 110 million euros in renewable energy (RES) projects within the next two months as long as economic and political stability prevails with the completion of the first review of Greece’s third bailout package. Elval, too, seems set to proceed with a major investment, backed by EU funding support, that will double the aluminium industry’s production capacity.

Certain macroeconomic factors, the most noteable being the handling of Greece’s debt issue, a constant threat for the economy’s sustainability, will need to be addressed if the country’s investment climate is to improve, it was pointed out at the conference.

At a practical level, entrepreneurs are waiting to see positive impact from last night’s agreement at the Euro Working Group, in the form of a further fall in Greek bond interest rates from the current levels of 7.5 percent to about 5 percent. This will help reduce the extraordinarily high cost of capital for Greek enterprises, compared to levels enjoyed by competitors abroad.