Greece's Public Power Corp. eyes expansion in Turkey

Greece's Public Power Corp. (PPC) aims to expand its investments in Turkey, the company's chairman Manolis Panagiotakis said Tuesday.

The country's major power utility has an 85 percent share in the retail market, but agreed to reduce its share below 50 percent from 2020 as part of the country's bailout terms with the EU.

In a bid to diversify its assets, PPC is now looking to invest more in Turkey and in the Balkan region. To this end, PPC is working with an international consultancy to develop a strategy for the Turkish energy market, he said.

"We feel that it is the right time to have a vivid presence in Turkey," Panagiotakis said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency.

"What we are looking for is the possibility of cooperation and expansion of investments in Turkey in the wind sector, in some small hydroelectric projects, and also taking part in a geothermic investment in Cappadocia," he explained.

The company already has a presence in Turkey through activities of its subsidiary company since 2014, PPC Elektrik, which is involved in electricity trading.

Renewables are not the company's only pursuit. The company bid in a tender for a coal power station in Turkey's Eskisehir along side with China's Shenhua, Panagiotakis said.

Its headway into the Balkan region involves the acquisition of Macedonia's EDS Group, at a time when Greece is trying to resolve a quarter-century dispute with its neighbor over the naming of Macedonia.

Greece does not accept Macedonia's name as it has a region by the same name in the north of the country. Greece also argues that the former Yugoslav Republic has claims on its territory and its historical heritage.

Since 2017, negotiations have stepped up, as the new government in Skopje wants a deal over its name with Athens, which can veto its NATO and EU membership.

"We don't discriminate based on other similar issues," Panagiotakis said, when asked whether the top-agenda issue of recent Greek politics would affect their investment. He also said that the acquisition would help PPC to become a regional player.

"Why FYROM [Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia]? Because we have had many years of cooperation with this country. Our place there may help us expand in other markets like Serbia, Kosovo and also Slovakia," he argued, pointing out parameters such as development and peace in the region.

EDS, a major supplier in Macedonia, also has subsidiaries in Serbia, Slovakia and Kosovo, and holds trading licenses in several other Balkan countries.

At home, PPC, with more than 7 million customers, is battling to collect its overdue bills. The company has launched new methods to collect its debts through the introduction of installments payments and incentives for regular payers to improve its balance sheet.

Panagiotakis said provisions for overdue bills stand at a €2.1 billion and the maximum was estimated to be €2.4 billion.

"It will take time for these figures to be reduced," he said, but remained hopeful that repayments would speed up.

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