February 15, 2017 / 1:46 PM / a year ago

EU competition watchdog raids Greek power utility - sources

ATHENS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The European Union’s competition authority on Tuesday raided Greece’s power utility PPC and the headquarters of the country’s power grid operator ADMIE, two sources said on Wednesday.

According to media reports, the raid came after complaints that PPC, 51 percent owned by the state, had violated competition rules over wholesale power prices.

“A mission of (EU‘s) Directorate-General for Competition visited PPC and ADMIE’s offices yesterday,” a Greek energy ministry official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

An official at ADMIE, which is fully owned by PPC, confirmed the information.

PPC, a former monopoly, was not immediately available for comment.

Under a plan to reform its energy market, a key condition of Greece’s international bailout, the country has to spin off ADMIE from PPC by the end of March or fully privatise the grid. PPC has agreed to sell a stake in ADMIE to China’s State Grid International Development.

Athens also needs to cut PPC’s share in the retail market to below 50 percent by 2020 from about 90 percent.

Greece last year launched power auctions to open up the market but it has been at odds with its international lenders over the effectiveness of the scheme.

Smaller power producers have also criticised the auctions, suggesting that PPC might need to divest some of its units for the market to open, a plan that the government has strongly resisted. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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