Greece to seek alternatives to privatising power grid - minister

Talks on bailout delayed as IMF confirms receiving Greek request for new loan

Newly appointed Greek energy minister Panos Skourletis says Greece will look to alternatives to privatising its power grid. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Newly appointed Greek energy minister Panos Skourletis says Greece will look to alternatives to privatising its power grid. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

 

Greece will look to alternatives to privatising its power grid operator ADMIE as part of a new bailout deal with its lenders, Energy Minister Panos Skourletis told the weekly Agora newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.

As part of measures Greece agreed with its creditors to start talks on a new bailout deal, Athens has committed to selling ADMIE unless replacement measures that would also open up competition in the market can be found.

“We will follow the path of alternative, equivalent measures, as has been the case in other European countries,” Skourletis, who took over as energy minister following a reshuffle last week, told the paper.

He said the strategic importance of the power grid meant it should stay in public hands.

A previous conservative government had launched the sale of a 66 per cent stake in ADMIE, a unit of the country’s dominant electricity utility PPC (DEHr.AT), and four investors had been shortlisted as buyers.

But the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras halted the privatisation along with other state asset sales after it came to power in January.

“We should realise that PPC’s role and its assets managed by ADMIE are priceless,” Skourletis said, adding that he was also against privatising PPC.

Under a previous plan agreed with its lenders, Greece would spin off PPC and sell part of its production capacity to investors.

The statement comes the day after the International Monetary Fund said it had received a letter from Greece seeking a loan facility.

“We will discuss with the Greek authorities and with our European partners the timing and the modalities for the discussions,” the IMF added in a short statement.

The Greek Finance Ministry said earlier on Friday that Greece had formally submitted a request to the IMF for the new loan facility.

Talks on tying up the new bailout deal for Greece failed to start on Friday as had been expected, with officials blaming security worries for delaying the negotiations.

Reuters