ECONOMY

PPC gambles on investor interest to finance growth

The sale of a 15 to 18 percent stake in state electricity giant Public Power Corporation (PPC) will help the company continue its modernization, improve its productivity and profitability and make it an important regional player, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos told a gathering of executives, financiers and reporters in yesterday’s presentation of the company ahead of its listing on the Athens Stock Exchange. PPC’s managing director, Stergios Nezis called on investors to trust PPC, promising a continuation of restructuring as well as continued domination of the domestic market. He said the company would enhance its profitability, partly by raising electricity rates, which are among the lowest in Europe, Nezis said. PPC, which, until earlier this year, was the monopoly producer of electricity and still retains the distribution monopoly, will be listed in the Athens and London stock exchanges. PPC is offering foreign and domestic investors 23 million from its existing shares (9.91 percent) with a par value of 1,000 drachmas (2.935 euros). Another 12 million shares (5.17 percent), newly issued as part of the PPC’s capital increase, will also be offered to domestic and foreign individual and institutional investors. Domestic investors will acquire the shares through a public subscription, from December 4-7, while foreign investors will do so through book building. PPC employees will get part of the existing shares at a discount, but will be blocked from trading them for six months, in order not to drive the price below its Initial Public Offer Level by selling their shares. Other investors who will hold their shares for at least six months will earn a 3 percent discount. PPC may also offer 2.32 million shares to the chief underwriters – ABN AMRO Rothschild, Alpha Finance, Goldman Sachs International and the National Bank of Greece – to sell to the public as a so-called greenshoe option to help stabilize the price, if demand is high. Another 4.68 million shares will be offered to holders of share-convertible certificates, again if there is a demand. PPC Chairman Dimitris Papoulias said that PPC would venture into the telecommunications sector, in partnership with Italy’s Wind, itself a partnership between Italy’s electricity group Enel and France Telecom. Services will be offered at the beginning of October 2002. The partners aim at an 18-percent share of the market by 2006. The European Union gave the venture antitrust clearance yesterday.