ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will conclude the spin-off of power grid operator ADMIE by mid-June, meeting a key term of its third international bailout, ADMIE’s chief executive said on Thursday.
Athens and its EU/IMF lenders had agreed that 24 percent of ADMIE, owned by state-controlled utility Public Power Corp, would be sold this year to China’s State Grid Corp and a further 25 percent to a Greek state holding company.
“Everything will be wrapped up within the first 15 days of June,” ADMIE Chief Executive Yannis Kabouris told Reuters on the sidelines of an Athens energy conference.
The sale is part of Greece’s slow-moving privatisation drive and efforts to open up the country’s energy market.
Kabouris said that State Grid’s participation would also help ADMIE to implement a 2 billion euro (£1.7 billion) 10-year investment plan, which includes connecting the island of Crete to mainland Greece via undersea cables by 2023.
“The strategic investor is a very big company with huge financial calibre that will bring know-how for state-of-the-art technology, such as cables and direct current power systems,” Kabouris said.
Power production on Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, is currently provided by three oil-fired plants that must be shut down by 2025 to comply with an EU directive.
Kabouris said that ADMIE hopes to conclude the first phase of the plan, which involves connecting Crete to the southern Peloponnese, by 2020. The second phase, linking Crete to Athens, is expected to be ready by 2023.
The estimated total cost of the two phases is about 1 billion euros, Kabouris said. Part of the project will be financed by European funds and possibly the European Investment Bank (EIB).
ADMIE is also in talks with banks for further financing, Kabouris said.
“We believe they (State Grid) will help us secure better financing terms,” he added.
Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Karolina Tagaris and David Goodman