Union boiling ahead of today’s PPC meeting on IPTO sale

Last week’s efforts by the energy ministry’s leadership to appease power utility PPC’s main union group Genop over its opposition to the split-and-sale plan for the utility’s wholly owned subsidiary IPTO, the power grid operator, ahead of today’s general shareholders meeting, during which the bailout-required move is expected to be endorsed, seem to have been undermined by the news of a prospective transfer of a 34 percent PPC stake to the country’s new super privatization fund.

The Greek State holds a 51.12 percent of PPC, including a 17 percent share already transfered to the privatization fund.

Today’s shareholders meeting will be staged as a follow-up to last week’s session, disrupted by a Genop intrusion. In the lead-up to today’s meeting, energy minister Panos Skourletis has sought to assure Genop boss Giorgos Adamidis that worker rights would not be affected as a result of the developments at IPTO. But this, alone, does not appear to have been enough.

In its announcement released for a three-hour work stoppage timed to coincide with today’s PPC shareholders meeting, Genop noted that the PPC corporate group is “being privatized through the back door”, adding that the government is seeking to mislead.

If Genop members interrupt proceedings at today’s meeting, then the likelihood of an alternative IPTO plan demanded by the international creditors, to fully privatize the operator, will greatly increase.

According to the IPTO sale plan, a stake of between 20 and 24 percent will be sold to a strategic investor through an international tender. The Greek State will take on a 51 percent of IPTO, while the leftover stake, following the strategic investor’s acquisition, will also be sold. The objective is to endorse these plans at today’s meeting, slightly beyond a June deadline set by the bailout terms.

Besides Genop, members and officials of the radical leftist Popular Unity party, launched last summer by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis after he quit the Syriza party for succumbing to bailout pressures, are also expected to turn up to the Athens location where PPC’s general shareholders meeting will be held.

An increased presence of police officers is expected to barricade a main Athens hotel selected for the meeting. Its choice, amid the height of the summer tourism season, has raised eyebrows.