(Adds finance ministry comment)
ATHENS Jan 13 Greece's four biggest lenders are
concerned about the spin-off of the country's power grid
operator ADMIE, a key condition of a bailout agreement between
Athens and its official creditors, a banker and a government
official said on Friday.
ADMIE is fully owned by Greece's state-controlled
electricity utility Public Power Corp. (PPC).
Under a legislated scheme, PPC will sell a 24 percent stake
in ADMIE to China's State Grid for 320
million euros ($340 million) and transfer another 51 percent
stake to the state and its current private shareholders for
But banks which have extended sizeable loans to PPC sent a
letter to the finance ministry this week, expressing worries
over the plan.
"In their letter, they point out their concerns on the sale
of a large stake in power grid ADMIE without any proceeds," said
a banker at one of the country's biggest lenders, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
Banks say this weakens PPC's finances, which have been under
pressure in recent years due to provisions for bills left unpaid
by customers hit by years of economic crisis, the banker added.
"It is an expression of their concerns as creditors, seeking
to protect their interests. As creditors they have a say but
there is no issue of cancelling loans to PPC," the banker added.
A Greek government official confirmed that Greece's four
biggest banks had sent a letter to the finance ministry, copying
PPC management, outlining their concerns over the issue.
PPC declined to comment.
PPC shareholders had been due to approve the transfer of the
51 percent ADMIE stake on Thursday but the meeting was postponed
until Jan. 17 after a request by the Greek privatisation agency,
one of PPC's main shareholders.
Greece has to conclude ADMIE's plan by March or fully
privatise the grid, a possibility which PPC's chairman has ruled
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Energy Minister
George Stathakis met executives of the four big banks on Friday
to discuss the successful completion of the power grid spin-off,
the finance ministry said.
"Specific actions were agreed ... which fully ensure the
timely completion of ADMIE's privatisation within the framework
of the legislated scheme," the ministry said in a statement,
without providing details.
($1 = 0.9415 euros)
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and George Georgiopoulos;
Editing by Adrian Croft)