November 15, 2017 / 3:39 PM / in a year

Greece, EU to conclude talks on coal-fired plants sale this month - minister

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece and the European Union are expected to wrap up talks on which coal-fired plants the country will put up for sale in line with an EU court ruling this month, Greek energy minister said on Wednesday.

Greece and its international lenders have agreed that PPC (DEHr.AT), which is 51 percent-owned by the state, will sell plants equal to about 40 percent of its coal-fired capacity after a European court ruled that the utility had abused its dominant position in the coal market.

Energy minister George Stathakis met PPC’s largest labour union on Wednesday and said talks with EU’s competition authorities were ongoing and were seen concluding in the next couple of weeks.

“Our aim is to find common ground,” he said, according to a statement from the energy ministry.

Athens and the European Commission have been in talks since July, trying to define which plants will be put up for sale.

Greece is keen to divest plants that will not significantly reduce PPC’s generation capacity. The EU wants to ensure that the plants will attract investors’ interest.

Under its latest bailout, Greece also needs to cut PPC’s share of the retail market to below 50 percent from 88 percent by the end of 2019.

The country has launched power sales to open the electricity market to other producers but the measure has been insufficient so far. PPC has proposed to transfer about seven percent of its clients to an entity, aiming at selling it to investors to help cut its dominance.

However, Greece has no plans to sell PPC’s clients, Stathakis said.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, editing by David Evans

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