ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's leading power utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) (DEHr.AT) reported a sharp rise in nine-month net profit on Wednesday due to a sharp drop in provisions to cover the cost of bills left unpaid by customers hit by years of economic crisis.
The country's biggest power producer and electricity supplier has been severely hit by soaring provisions for this debt - estimated by market analysts at more than 2 billion euros ($2.08 billion) - as unpaid bills accumulated from Greeks hit by seven years of austerity-induced recession.
The company said net profit in the nine months to September rose to 69.5 million euros from 5.9 million euros in the same period last year. Provisions for unpaid bills fell to 387.7 million euros in the nine-month period compared to 603.0 million euros in the same period.
The rise in profit was "mainly due to the sharp fall in provisions for unpaid bills," PPC Chief Executive Emmanuel Panagiotakis said in a statement.
PPC said adjusted net profit excluding one-off effects came to 140.9 million euros. Sales dropped 9.2 percent from the nine-month period last year to 4.04 billion euros, it said.
PPC expects that more than 600,000 clients in arrears will have joined in a three-year settlement scheme by the end of the year from 565,000 who have already done so, and that it could recover about one billion euros from them.
($1 = 0.9617 euros)
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Karolina Tagaris, editing by Louise Heavens