State will ?not sell? its stake in PPC

The government insists that it will not give up its majority stake at Public Power Corporation (PPC) despite a proposal by its creditors for the privatization of the Greek power giant.

Speaking to Reuters on Monday, an unnamed senior official at the Environment and Energy Ministry stated that ?the government?s policy of retaining a 51 percent stake in PPC remains intact.? The powerful PPC workers? union, GENOP, was up in arms, meanwhile, preparing for battle should another stake in the company get sold.

The company?s administration does view privatization as a possibility, but argues that the price of the stock is particularly undervalued. However, those in the know suggest that this is not the first time the issue of PPC?s privatization has come up with Greece?s creditors. They also add that Energy Minister Tina Birbili and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou had clashed over the issue as far back as last May during a cabinet meeting to discuss the privatization blueprint.

The same sources also link that event to a letter by Papaconstantinou to the PPC administration calling for the streamlining of its finances, and with developments at GENOP regarding an infamous loan of 500,000 euros and subsequent press accusations against one of the union?s secretaries.

Cutting the corporation?s operating costs and reducing the strength of the union were, according to the same sources, the two conditions the troika asked of the government while discussing the plan for the privatization of PPC.

Another significant issue that will have to be resolved ahead of any privatization solution is the 4.5-billion-euro share in PPC assets that GENOP owns by law.

The state is hoping to collect 8 billion euros from the sale of stakes in listed and non-listed companies. Besides PPC, such companies include OPAP gaming company, water firms EYDAP and EYATH, Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities, urban transport companies, Hellenic Defense Systems etc.

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