Metals group Mytilineos Holdings, Southeast Europe’s largest producer of aluminium, plans to bid for troubled state-controlled nickel producer Larco, its chief executive said yesterday. «It’s a challenge we’re ready to assume to create one of Europe’s biggest metals groups west of the Urals,» CEO Evangelos Mytilineos said during a presentation to analysts in Athens, according to Reuters. Mytilineos said he plans to cut Larco’s operating costs by 30 percent and to invest up to 150 million euros in the company, which is one of the world’s top producers of steel alloy ferronickel. Larco, jointly owned by the Greek government, National Bank and Public Power Corporation, is lossmaking due to falling demand, high energy costs and hedging deals that went sour. The company said in April it would cut production by 55 percent this year. Larco, in which the government said last month it was seeking a strategic investor, lost about 270 million euros on hedging deals over the past three years, Mytilineos said. Mytilineos said he expected the government to seek a buyer for Larco by mid-September and other, non-Greek groups to also express an interest in the company. Shares in Mytilineos added 6.07 percent to 5.94 euros on the Athens bourse yesterday, versus a 1.47 percent rise on the broader market.