ECONOMY

PPC must look at the Balkans

Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos yesterday told trade unionists and pensioners of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) that the public electricity utility’s flotation on the stock market will enable it to gain a foothold in the neighboring Balkan countries. PPC can avoid the constraints of a small domestic market by strengthening its presence in the Balkans via alliances or collaborations, he noted. Tsochadzopoulos’s hard sell to PPC employees and pensioners on the benefits of a flotation come as the electricity company prepares for a listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE). The timetable for the move, however, has been revised a number of times, the latest delay due to the uncertain market conditions. The government has said that it plans to list PPC by the end of the year. The company submitted a preliminary candidacy file to ASE last month. Development ministry spokesman Lazaros Hadzinakos told Kathimerini English Edition that at least 10 percent of the electricity company will be listed in the first stage. Further stakes of 10 percent each will be floated gradually. He said that PPC trade unionists and pensioners told the minister that they agree to a ceiling of up to 49 percent ultimately, with the State retaining the majority stake. He said a decision on the size of the first tranche of PPC shares to be sold will be made before November 20, the date when the company is due to embark on roadshows in Greece and abroad. The minister also unveiled plans to turn PPC into a broader energy group through the acquisition of a stake in the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) which is majority-controlled by the state. Oil company Hellenic Petroleum holds the remaining 35 percent but has repeatedly stated its desire to expand the stake. DEPA’s principal assets are its three, wholly owned gas distribution companies in Attica, Thessaloniki and Thessaly which in turn have majority stakes in three gas supply companies in the same regions. It is also slated for privatization. Tsochadzopoulos said that PPC must transform itself into a diverse energy operation with interests in the natural gas market, oil products and telecommunications. PPC in September announced a telecommunications joint venture with Italian telecoms company Wind.