June 2, 2020 / 3:47 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Greece's PPC swings to core profit on lower energy costs

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ΑTHENS, June 2 (Reuters) - Greece’s biggest power utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) made a core profit in the first quarter of the year, helped by a drop in energy costs due to worldwide coronavirus lockdowns, it said on Tuesday.

PPC, which is 51% state-owned and plans to switch off all its coal-fired plants but one by 2023, said recurring earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) came in at 182 million euros ($204 million), compared with a core loss of 66.3 million euros in the same period last year.

Despite lower electricity demand during a lockdown that Greece imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, PPC benefitted from lower fuel, natural gas and carbon emissions costs for its plants.

PPC, which provides 60% of Greece’s electricity, has seen its finances suffer in recent years and still has more than 2.7 billion euros in unpaid bills owed by customers who struggled during the country’s economic crisis.

The coronavirus crisis slowed payments of electricity bills in March, it said. However, collection has improved since the middle of April and the outbreak is not expected to affect PPC’s investment plans “in the medium to long term,” it added.

New management, which took over last year, cut price discounts and payroll costs to overhaul the utility and has vowed to boost investment in renewables.

$1 = 0.8941 euros Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter

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