PPC wins court appeal to overturn EU lignite order

Public Power Corp SA won a European Union court bid to overturn a 2008 decision ordering Greece to loosen the company?s stranglehold on a cheap fuel for electricity generation.

The European Commission failed to show there was abuse of a dominant position by Public Power as a result of its preferential treatment in the market for lignite, the EU General Court in Luxembourg ruled on Thursday. Public Power surged as much as 6.1 percent in Athens trading after the ruling.

Public Power appealed a March 2008 decision by the commission, the EU?s regulator, that said Greece violates EU law by giving the company ?quasi-exclusive? access to lignite, a soft, brownish-black coal that is the Mediterranean country?s cheapest available fuel. Public Power depends on lignite, among the most polluting fuels, to help compensate for losses in its natural-gas business.

The commission ?cannot maintain that it was not required to identify and establish the abuse of a dominant position to which the state measure in question led, or could lead, the applicant,? the court said in Thursday?s ruling.

Public Power shares surged 5.6 percent to 4.14 euros at 11:08 p.m. in Athens, its highest level since Feb. 21. The stock has risen 20 percent in the last three days.

The Athens-based company has said its cost of production is about half as much in lignite as in cleaner gas. Greece is the third-largest lignite producer in the EU after Germany and Poland, according to the European Association for Coal and Lignite.


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