July 22, 2019 / 3:54 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Greece to overhaul troubled utility Public Power Corp - minister

(Adds detail, background)

By Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS, July 22 (Reuters) - Greece unveiled on Monday a plan to overhaul loss-making state-controlled Public Power Corp. (PPC) to shore up its finances, including voluntary redundancies and selling shares in its distribution network.

PPC, which is 51% owned by the state, has been struggling to collect part of more than 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) of arrears from bills left unpaid during the country’s debt crisis, which began in late 2009.

Under a post-bailout agreement between Greece and its lenders, PPC sells power at below-cost prices to alternative producers to help open up the market, a measure which has also weighed on the utility’s profit.

Outlining his main policy for PPC after the Greek conservative government won a July 7 election, Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said that Greece will seek to scrap that obligation.

“It’s not possible for the utility to sell below cost and work for the benefit of its rivals,” Hatzidakis said.

The new government also plans to proceed with the partial privatisation of PPC’s low-voltage distribution network and implement a targeted voluntary redundancy scheme.

In a bid to boost its liquidity, Hatzidakis said that PPC will also double its efforts to collect as much as it can out of the 800 million euros ($897.36 million)in arrears from habitual defaulters.

Hatzidakis also said the government aimed to sell off part of state-controlled power grid operator ADMIE.

$1 = 0.8915 euros Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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