ECONOMY

Provisions for unpaid bills hurt Greek power utility PPC

Greece’s main electricity utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) returned to profitability in 2014 though hefty provisions for overdue bills pushed its results below market expectations.

The 51 percent state-owned company reported a net profit of 91.3 million euros ($98.8 million) on Friday after a 225.3 million euro loss in 2013 when a one-off tax hit earnings.

Five analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast PPC net profit of 142.4 million euros for 2014.

Overdue bills have increased as an austerity-induced recession and record unemployment in Greece have led households to delay or refuse to pay their bills.

Last year, provisions for bad debt came in at 374.4 million euros, a 6 percent rise from 2013.

Greece’s economic woes continue to weigh on electricity demand and sales fell 1.8 percent last year to 5.86 billion euros. PPC controls almost all the retail electricity market and accounts for about two thirds of Greece’s electricity output.

The country’s previous conservative-led government planned to spin off PPC and sell part of its production base to investors under a privatization scheme.

But the new Greek left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras halted the privatization after took power in January.

The company also said it would pay a dividend of 0.05 euros a share to shareholders.

[Reuters]