Investors interested in PPC lignite units, challenges remain

With just 19 days remaining until the May 28 deadline for binding bids in the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment of its Megalopoli and Meliti lignite power stations, prospective bidding teams appear interested but challenges remain for the sale, relaunched after an initial attempt failed to produce a result.

The candidates are believed to be preparing decent offers based on the current SPA terms, Greek electricity market conditions and EU climate change policies.

The Czech Republic’s Sev.En Energy, joined by GEK Terna; CHN Energy-Damco Energy (Copelouzos Group); Mytilineos; and Elvalhalkor are preparing worthy offers, sources have informed.

China’s CHN Energy and Sev.En Energy have emerged as the chief partners of their respective pairings, while their Greek associates have assumed negotiating roles with PPC.

Mytilineos and Elvalhalkor are both still looking to establish an association for the disinvestment and are also pushing for further sale term improvements.

The Greek participants are particularly keen to acquire the lignite units as a means of breaking PPC’s monopoly and avoiding any new sale attempt that would also bring hydropower units into the picture and end up attracting major European players with financial might.

Greek energy firms are looking to avoid the market entry of foreign competitors as this would lead to market share contractions and a loss of their leading domestic roles.

Despite the investor interest, the sale attempt remains challenging for all sides. The Megalopoli and Meliti lignite units, according to PPC’s financial results for 2018, incurred losses of more than 360 million euros. Also, CO2 emission right costs are continuing on their upward trajectory, while Brussels’ tough stance on carbon is  stiffening.

 

PPC sale contenders embrace coal cost cut, await SPA terms

Prospective buyers considering the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale package of lignite units, relaunched after an initial effort failed to produce a result, have responded favorably to news of a lignite supply cost reduction for Meliti, one of the stations up for sale, but they remain on hold awaiting the sale’s finalized SPA terms before reaching conclusions.

PPC has secured a lignite supply cost reduction of 28 percent for its Meliti power station following an agreement with the operator of the Ahlada mine feeding the power station. The lignite supply price has come down to 16.5 euros per ton from 23 euros per ton.

“The finalization of any pending issue is positive news [for the sale], but we will take positions once we see the SPA,” one source noted.

A total of six bidding teams are participating in the sale. Beijing Guohua Power Company Limited, joined by Damco Energy; China Western Power Industrial; the Czech Republic’s Sev.En Energy – Indoverse Coal Investments Limited; GEK Terna; Elvalhalkor; and Mytilineos make up the field of contenders.

 

New PPC lignite sale’s field of contenders disclosed today

The field of contenders entering the non-binding first round of main power utility PPC’s renewed sale of lignite units, a bailout requirement, will be unveiled to the utility this afternoon by HSBC, managing the sale’s expressions of interest procedure.

It remains unknown if two undisclosed investors from Russia and the USA, as well as China’s CMEC will emerge as additional entries to the previous sale attempt’s list of contenders, as was recently announced by PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis.

The PPC boss has also indicated that Czech firm EPH, a participant in PPC’s initial sale effort, intends to reenter.

Expressions of interest are once again expected from Seven Energy, another Czech firm, with Gek Terna as its partner for this sale, China’s CHN Energy with the Copelouzos group, as well as Mytilineos, according to sources.

All three formations had taken part in the initial sale effort and reached a consultation stage that shaped the disinvestment’s sales and purchase agreement. Offers were submitted by Seven Energy-Gek Terna and Mytilineos.

The participation of Elvalhalkor is uncertain. This firm could move to take part in a consortium at a latter stage.

On the one hand, a wider field of prospective buyers promises to intensify bidding, while, on the other, this will increase investor demands for greater incentives as a condition for binding bids.

The PPC boss contends Meliti and Megalopoli power station units included in the sale are profitable but investors see unfavorable prospects given the EU’s decarbonization policy.

Also, an unfavorable supply agreement between PPC and the operator of the Ahlada mine feeding the utility’s Meliti unit remains unresolved. PPC wants improved terms. The existing contract, not securing price and quantity stability, was seen as a drawback by participants in PPC’s initial sale.

Furthermore, CAT remuneration eligibility for sale package units remains uncertain. The European Commission has yet to deliver news on this front.

The sale’s new evaluation procedure, seen producing a lower price, is another headache for PPC. The utility’s boss insists PPC units “will not be sold to investors seeking swift profit within a year or two.”

 

 

 

Czech offer to serve as lower limit in new PPC sale attempt

The main power utility PPC’s recently failed bailout-required sale of lignite units is headed for a relaunch rather than an extension, which will enable the entry of new candidates, as well as a market-based evaluation rather than a book value estimate of assets, as was the case with the first attempt, ongoing negotiations between the energy ministry and the European Commission are strongly indicating.

Bids submitted by participants in the initial sale attempt are expected to be taken into account for the new evaluation.

The Mytilineos group had offered 25 million euros for PPC’s Meliti unit while a Greek-Czech bidding team comprising Gek Terna and Seven Energy submitted a 103 million-euro offer for Meliti and two Megalopoli units.

However, this latter offer was rejected as it included a profit-and-loss sharing condition that had not been included in the sale’s terms. Authorities are now looking at including a profit-and-loss sharing mechanism to the new sale’s terms. Also, the amount offered by Gek Terna and Seven Energy is expected to be adopted as a lower limit.

Energy ministry officials are aiming for a finalized agreement by this Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers. PPC’s lignite disinvestment is a key bailout commitment that remains pending. A one-billion euro tranche for Greece depends on this sale procedure.

PPC’s chief official Manolis Panagiotakis believes that a renewed sale attempt cannot take place sooner than May, given the preparations required.

Greek officials are hoping for a sufficient time period that will enable the completion of a staff reduction demand made by prospective buyers for the sale package’s units.  Local authorities also hope PPC’s lignite units will qualify for CAT remuneration by May.

PPC fate in hands of Brussels, hydropower units addition a fear

The main power utility PPC’s future corporate make-up, following the apparent debacle of its bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units, now lies in the hands of the European Commission, whose intentions are soon expected.

Even if the Mytilineos group does submit an improved follow-up offer today, as has been requested, for PPC’s Meliti facility in Florina, northern Greece, and the unit is sold, the country’s commitments to the European Commission will not have been fulfilled.

Two units of PPC’s Megalopoli facility failed to attract investors, meaning the sale’s objective of reducing PPC’s lignite market share by 35.6 percent cannot be attained.

The initial offer made by the Mytilineos group for Meliti is believed to be well under the price tag set by an independent evaluator for the facility.

Another offer made by Seven Energy and Terna, for Megalopoli, was apparently rejected for not meeting terms, while the sale’s third contender, a team comprised of the Copelouzos group and CHN Energy, ended up not submitting any offers.

The crucial question, as things have turned out, is whether Brussels will bring Greece’s hydropower units into the picture, as an addition to the lignite package.

The energy ministry is definitely worried about such a prospect and insists this remains a red-line issue for energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.

Greece will be under considerable pressure should Brussels and the country’s other lender institutions decide to associate the lignite unit sale’s apparent debacle with Greece’s slow progress in opening up the retail electricity market to competition.

Data provided by the energy exchange for December showed PPC’s retail market share rose to 80.29 percent from 78.63 percent in a month. According to bailout terms on the matter, PPC’s market share at the end of 2018 was supposed to have dropped to 62.24 percent before reaching 49.24 percent by the end of 2019.

 

 

PPC units sale close to failure, call for improved sole valid offer

The main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of units at Meliti in Greece’s north and Megalopoli in the south could end up being half successful, at best, but a full debacle is considered most likely, the disclosure of binding bids submitted yesterday, the sale’s deadline day, has indicated.

Sale authorities have requested an improved bid from just one participant, the Mytilineos group, for its offer concerning the Meliti facility, while another offer made by Seven Energy and Terna for Megalopoli has apparently been rejected as it does not meet the tender’s terms, energypress has understood following a thorough cross-examination of incoming information.

According to one of Greece’s bailout commitments, based on a European Court verdict, the sale effort requires a disinvestment representing 40 percent of PPC’s lignite capacity. Meliti I and II and Megalopoli III and IV need to be sold if this disinvestment target is to be achieved.

PPC has suggested it will strive for an imminent follow-up sale in an effort to honor the European Court disinvestment decision. If this is permitted, problems that have made the current sale unattractive to investors will need to be resolved. The current composition of the Megalopoli package, in particular, is virtually unsellable, investors agree.

PPC remains determined to achieve decent sale prices for Meliti and Megalopoli, despite the fact that both facilities have been assessed as loss-incurring by investors. In recent comments, the power utility’s chief Manolis Panagiotakis noted that PPC is “selling not selling out.”

PPC lignite units sale failure highly likely, day after examined

The main power utility PPC’s ongoing effort to sell its Megalopoli and Meliti power stations as part of a bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units appears increasingly likely to fail as possible buyers are maintaining an unfavorable view of the prospects of the units on offer.

An extended deadline for binding bids is nearing and expires on February 6.

PPC has planned a series of meetings for today with the sale’s three possible buyers – CHN Energy-Copelouzos group, Seven Energy-Gek Terna and Mytilineos – to update on the progress of its voluntary exit plan offered to employees at the Megalopoli and Meliti units and transfer of 400 employees to other units.

PPC believes these changes will transform the loss-incurring units into profitable ventures but the buyers remain tentative. Their analysis of data made available paints a darker picture.

The sale’s participants have called for the implementation of a profit-and-loss sharing system for Megalopoli and Meliti. The European Commission has rejected a plan forwarded by PPC but the investors contend it was very different to a preliminary plan embraced by Brussels. The buyers also want a more drastic reduction of employees at the two plants to 480 from the previous combined total of 1,248. They are also demanding clarity on the CAT remuneration eligibility of the two plants and a clearer picture on the lignite price for supply from the Ahlada mine to the Meliti unit.

The energy ministry is believed to already be examining options based on EU regulations should the sale effort fail. If so, the ministry believes the forthcoming European Parliamentary elections, to be held May 23-26, will hold up and thrust forward the sale to a future date.

PPC sale deadline extension ‘pointless without better terms’

Investors considering the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units expect new sale-term improvements beyond certain incentives already offered now that a last-minute decision was taken by authorities earlier this week to extend a January 23 binding bids deadline to February 6.

“There is no point in the deadline extension if further incentives are not offered,” a source at one of the sale’s contender firms told energypress, echoing the thoughts of all possible buyers. The PPC units on offer are not capable of generating profit figures under the sale’s existing terms, the source added.

Contenders have remained adamant on earlier views. The Czech Republic’s Seven Energy, which has teamed up with Gek Terna for this sale, insists on a 50 percent staff cut at two power stations, Megalopoli and Meliti, included in the sale package. Both plants remain loss-incurring, the candidates remind.

A team made up of China’s CHN Energy and the Copelouzos group is demanding a lignite supply cost reduction, especially for the Meliti plant.

The energy ministry is under less pressure to complete state-controlled PPC’s sale effort now that Greece’s bailout program has concluded and the country’s borrowing ability is no longer directly linked with the bailout terms.

At worst, energy ministry officials believe, the PPC sale effort will sink and the European Commission will again challenge the power utility’s dominant position in Greece’s lignite market, seen as a slow bureaucratic procedure.

PPC lignite unit contenders up pressure, new deadline possible

Three contenders considering the main power utility PPC’s sale of its Megalopoli and Meliti lignite-fired power stations included in a bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units are intensifying their pressure on PPC for more favorable terms as the deadline for binding bids approaches.

In response, PPC has been eager to present any new favorable developments that have emerged from the implementation of incentives in an effort to support the sale’s conditions and price-tag potential.

This was demonstrated yesterday by chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis in comments to journalists.  He made reference to the results of a voluntary exit plan offered to employees at the Megalopoli and Meliti units, both loss-incurring. A total of 360 employees working at the two lignite-fired power stations have accepted the offer. Prospective buyers have indicated they want the workforce at Megalopoli and Meliti, totaling 1,248 prior to the voluntary exit plan, to be cut down to 600. PPC has just announced a voluntary transfer plan for Meliti and Megalopoli unit employees to other company posts.

Panagiotakis also noted PPC is negotiating with the owners of the Ahlada lignite mine, feeding the Meliti power station, for a lower supply price and longer supply agreement.

Reacting to the PPC chief’s comments, China’s CHN and the Copelouzos group’s Damco, one of the sale’s three potential bidding teams, described the results of the staff reduction effort at the two power stations as a good basis for cost reduction.

A consortium comprising the Czech Republic’s Seven Energy and Gek Terna has refused to comment. The Seven Energy firm has yet to present itself as a certain participant in the sale. In recent times, it has made note of narrow profit margins despite the voluntary exit plan, CAT remuneration uncertainties surrounding for the two units, and increased CO2 emission right costs.

Panagiotakis, the PPC chief, yesterday told journalists the Mytilineos group remains a contender for the Megalopoli and Meliti power stations. The Mytilineos group has not responded but, according to sources, remains troubled by what it sees as an unfavorable investment conditions surrounding the lignite sector, including the sharp rise in CO2 emission right costs.

Just days remain before the sale’s January 23 deadline for binding bids expires. An extension could be required as a result of PPC’s last-minute Ahlada mine negotiations and a Brussels delay concerning the European Commission’s position on Greece’s CAT remuneration mechanism proposal, a crucial factor for the lignite units sale.

 

 

Brussels warns Chinese, Czech investors over PPC units sale

Prospective buyers of main power utility PPC lignite-fired power stations included in a bailout-required disinvestment package representing 40 percent of PPC’s overall lignite capacity will need to comply with regulations and utilize these power stations as independently as possible from PPC, the European Commission has noted in a stern warning presumed to be directed at China’s CHN Energy and the Czech Republic’s Seven Energy, both interested in the sale.

CHN Energy, expected to bid for PPC’s Megalopoli and Meliti power stations along with the Copelouzos group as a bidding partner, is owned by the Chinese state, also the owner of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), holding a 24 percent stake in Greek power grid operator IPTO, until recently a PPC subsidiary.

As is widely known, the European Commission has not embraced Chinese involvement in strategic firms located on European territory. It is believed IPTO will need to undergo a renewed certification procedure if CHN Energy submits an offer for the two aforementioned PPC power stations.

The Czech Republic’s Seven Energy, planning to join forces with Terna for the PPC sale, has proposed a still-unspecified collaboration with PPC entailing a share of profits and losses over a six-year period.

Brussels grants investors one-month extension for PPC bids

Investors have been given a one-month extension for second-round binding bids concerning the main power utility PPC’s sale of lignite units following the European Commission’s approval of a request made by China’s CHN Energy, which has joined forces with the Copelouzos group for this sale.

Subsequently, prospective buyers now face a November 17 deadline for their binding bids. The deadline extension had been widely anticipated over the past ten days or so following hints made by energy ministry officials at the recent Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

The additional time provides energy ministry and PPC officials with an opportunity to negotiate with Brussels for the possible inclusion in the sale of a CAT remuneration system for lignite-fired electricity generation.

CHN Energy and the Copelouzos group had requested up to two months of additional time but the deadline extension was limited to one month by a  Monitoring Trustee overlooking the overall sale procedure on behalf of the European Commission.

Both the energy ministry and PPC officials fear offers by investors could remain low, higher CO2 emission right costs being a key factor. CAT remuneration would offer some incentive for bigger bids.

Initial hopes of a total sale price of around one billion euros for PPC lignite units and mines representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity have now deescalated to levels of several hundred million euros. Some investors have suggested offers could be considerably lower.

GEK-Terna, which has united with the Czech Republic’s Seven Energy for the PPC sale; another Czech firm, EPH; ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group; as well as Mytilineos, are the sale’s other second-round qualifiers.

CHN Energy requests deadline extension for PPC unit sale bids

China’s CHN Energy, which has joined forces with the Copelouzos group for the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units – offered as two respective packages representing 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity in the north and south – has requested a deadline extension of one or two months for the submission of binding offers. The current deadline expires on October 17.

CHN Energy is seeking additional time for its analysis of data collected by company officials, including through the PPC sale’s virtual data room, energypress sources informed. CHN Energy officials have forwarded numerous questions concerning the units up for sale, the sources added. Company practices, including approval procedures, applied at CHN Energy are a contributing factor to the need for additional time, sources said.

The CHN Energy request is now being examined by the European Commission, supervising the PPC sale.

Other participants do not appear to have requested more time. GEK-Terna, which has united with Seven Energy for the PPC sale, Czech firm EPH, ElvalHalkor, a member of the Viohalko group, as well as Mytilineos, have all submitted first-round expressions of interest.

The prospect of other partnerships being formed by these players does not seem probable, sources noted.

PPC officials will begin a series of management interviews today with participants for clarification of financial data collected through the video data room during the summer. Despite union resistance, some candidates managed to make on-site inspections of PPC facilities included in the sale.

 

 

PPC lignite sale regaining pace, 4 of 5 candidates interested

Four of five investment teams that submitted first-round expressions of interest for the main power utility PPC’s sale of bailout-required sale of lignite mines and power stations appear to have sustained their interested now that the disinvestment procedure is regaining speed following the summer slowdown in August.

Investors have actively sought sale-related information in the virtual data room established for the disinvestment ahead of a series of separate interviews, planned to begin next week, with PPC officials for further clarification of the assets up for sale, including technical and financial details. Interested parties are expected to submit binding second-round offers in October.

Czech firm EPH (Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding) appears to have retreated and will most likely not take part in the upcoming series of meetings. Until now, EPH representatives have yet to request any meeting with PPC officials.

On the contrary, Seven Energy, another Czech firm that emerged in the first round, has stationed a representative in Athens, seems very interested, and has joined forces with local powerhouse GEK Terna.

Investors still need to gain further information as the two companies founded to offer two separate sale packages, respectively representing PPC lignite units in Greece’s north and south, did not exist prior to this sale’s launch. As a result, prospective buyers need to be particularly careful and seek further details on corporate, legal and sale matters.

PPC’s chief executve Manolis Panagiotakis is not expected to participate in the power utility’s series of forthcoming meetings with investors.

Despite certain reservations as a result of lignite’s indefinite future in Greece’s energy mix, all other four investment teams appear interested in PPC’s two sale packages, representing 40 percent of the power utility’s overall lignite capacity.

Besides the GEK Terna-Seven Energy partnership, the Copelouzos group has been joined by China Energy (Beijing Guohua Power), while the Mytilineos group and ElvalHalkor also emerged in the first round.