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Newsletter October 2011


Fast Track—Three Projects Totaling 1.1 Billion Euros

The Interministerial Committee of Strategic Investments has approved the inclusion of three investment projects in the photovoltaic sector—worth 1.1 billion Euros—in the fast track status.

The three investment plans will be evaluated through rapid procedures, under the supervision of Invest in Greece, so that the investments will be facilitated to ensure the fastest possible result.

Included is the 200-megawatt Kozani plant, to be developed by Public Power Corp. SA, the country’s biggest electricity producer, according to Aristomenis  (Aris) Syngros, Chairman of Invest in Greece. The other projects include a 131-megawatt plant by Solar Cells Hellas Group and one by Silcio SA, that is slated to generate 127 megawatts under the programme.

Investment Framework Law: Second Phase Launched
The Greek government will launch the second phase of a new investment framework law from Oct. 1, calling on investors to submit investment plans by the end of October for evaluation and approval. Large-scale investment plans—with a budget of more than 50 million Euros—may be submitted by the end of the year.

Under the second phase of the Investment law, the government has earmarked 3.27 billion Euros for financial support, of which 2.37 billion Euros are in the form of tax breaks and the remaining 900 million Euros in form of capital and leasing subsidies.

The first phase of the Investment law, which began in May, was progressing according to plan; all investment plans submitted have been evaluated and 63 plans have been approved with a budget of 402,015,074 Euros, creating 497 new jobs.

Development, Competitiveness & Shipping Deputy Minister Thanos Moraitis said the new institutional framework guaranteed transparency, efficiency, objectivity, and a rapid implementation of procedures.

Linnaeus Capital Raises Stake in Selonda Fish Farms
Georgian entrepreneur Kahka Bendukidze has raised its equity stake in Selonda Fish Farms to 25 percent. In an announcement, Linnaeus Capital Partners BV said it has raised its equity stake in Selonda to 25 percent, owning 7,320,385 shares and voting rights.

Linnaeus Capital Partners BV is fully owned by I.I.H.C Industrial Investments Ltd, of which Kahka Bendukidze has a 73.25 percent majority stake.

September 29, 2011

European Commission Task Force Chief Horst Reichenbach: Tremendous Opportunity
"Greece presents a tremendous opportunity for investments," said European Commission Task Force chief Horst Reichenbach during a press conference held at the Commission's offices in Athens.

At the head of a team sent to provide Greece with technical assistance so that it can better absorb EU funds, Reichenbach stressed that the problem was not a lack of money but finding the right way to make use of the money that was available.

He repeated that the task force's role will be to assist in the speedy implementation of the reform programme for Greece and properly exploit EU funds by providing technical support for decisions made by the Greek government, not to supervise the government's actions. The EU official noted that, in addition to an effort to increase Greece's absorption of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, the reforms that will be promoted within the country will chiefly concern the health sector and electronic governance, which he said would be "fundamentally revised."

Reichenbach also referred to the importance of having a good tax collection system in order to solve fiscal problems. He pointed out that the Greek government was already collaborating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in this direction and that, together with the Task Force, proposals would be put forward for overcoming current inflexibility and problems.

He took care to emphasise that the Commission's aim was not to impose additional taxes but to provide technical support to improve the functioning of tax collection mechanisms.

Ultimately, Reichenbach added, the goal was to return Greece to a growth trajectory in order to create jobs and boost its competitiveness.

He noted that the situation in the country was a "bitter and difficult experience that other countries have not experienced" and insisted that the main aim was to lift Greece out of the recession.

On how this would be accomplished, the head of the Task Force said that the country had to make better use of money from structural funds, where huge sums were available and had to be used for targeted actions to improve infrastructure, energy, tourism and industry, particularly the food industry and training.

A basic priority according to Reichenbach was to make Greece more attractive for investments, while noting the problems created by the huge lack of liquidity in the banking sector. He could not offer any "magical solution" to solve this problem but noted that the EU and the European Investment Bank could activate funds in order to improve the situation.

Asked about setting up Special Economic Zones in Greece, Reichenbach said that it was worth examining whether European experience could be transferred to Greece and that his team would be ready to assist if the Greek government made the decision.

Germany’s Soleg SA Enters Greek RES Market
The German renewable energy systems company Soleg SA, based in Teisnach, Germany, entered the Greek renewable energy market as of September 1, 2011. Soleg in Greece acts as installers of photovoltaic systems up to 10 kWp. “In the future, larger photovoltaic installations in Greece will be of interest to us," said Soleg  President Bernhard Seiler.

Mr. Seiler also said: "Our entrance to the market in Greece is the logical evolution of our strategy which began in 2007 with the aim to transform Soleg into a pan-European business. In parallel to our main market in Germany since 1994, we have already conquered, step by step, a respectable market share in the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia and Austria. "

Soleg group AG is active internationally as a supplier of systems for solar electricity, solar thermal energy, heating with wood (biomass) and solar energy buildings. Soleg was founded in 1994 and currently employs about 70 workers at its headquarters in Teisnach, and in Pilsen, Czech Republic; Arezzo and Verona, Italy; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Austria and Greece.

Geothermal Concessions Tender
ITA SA-Terna Energy has won Greece’s call for tenders and owners of the geothermal concessions of South Chios, Samothraki, Evros Basin and Nestos Basin – Xanthi – Porto Lagos for geothermal exploration during the next 5 years.

Under the terms of their agreement with the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, they must invest 95 million Euros in geothermal exploration during the next 2 years.

The tender covered four regions in the delta of the Nestos River, the Evros Delta, the island of Samothrace and the eastern Aegean island of Hios. The Institute for Geological and Mineral Research (IGME) has reported there is evidence of rich geothermal energy sources at these sites.

China’s Sinovel set to Invest in Rhodope
Greece’s PPC reported that China’s Sinovel Wind Group Co Ltd  will invest in a 210 MW wind farm in Rhodope, northern Greece. This was announced following the visit of a Chinese delegation to Greece at which time details of the agreement and investment were agreed.

According to Greek newspaper Kathimerini, Yiannis Tsipouridis, the managing director of Greece’s PPC Renewables said: “At the moment China is looking for a point of entry to Europe, and Greece could play that very role.”

Sinovel Wind Group Co. is China’s first specialised high-tech enterprise engaged in independent development, design, manufacturing and sale of large-scale onshore, offshore and intertidal series of wind turbines which are adaptable to a global variety of wind resources and environmental conditions.

Open Public Tender to Explore Geothermal Potential
The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change announced a new International Open Tender for the leasing of the right to explore the Geothermal potential of four (4) areas: Sperchios basin, regional unit of Fthiotida; Akropotamos, regional units of Serres & Kavala; Sousaki, regional units of Western Atiica; and Korinthos and Ikaria, regional unit of Ikaria.
For more information, please follow the link.

500 Million Euro Solar Park in West Macedonia
The Board of Directors, PPC S.A. has forwarded the tender for the biggest photovoltaic park in West Macedonia with capacity of 200MW to the second and final phase. More specifically, the Invitation for Binding Offers will be sent to the 15 groups that were chosen from the previous phase of the tender regarding the selection of strategic partner for the following three obligatory actions:
1. The construction, operation and maintenance of the photovoltaic park with capacity of 200MW in West Macedonia.
2. The construction and operation of photovoltaic systems power plant in West Macedonia.
3. Other energy and technology actions in West Macedonia.

The selection of the strategic partner will be realised on basis of the most economically advantageous offer in accordance with the total marking of each offer. The goal for the submission of the final offers is set for the beginning of 2012 in order to select the contractor and to begin the construction in the following summer. The project will be developed within the area of 520 hectares in the Lignite Center of West Macedonia.

It constitutes an investment that will reach the total amount of €500 million. Its pure electricity generation is foreseen to cover the needs of 55,000 households, while its operation is estimated to contribute to the prevention of CO2 gas emissions up to 300,000 tn annually. At the same time, the construction unit of photovoltaic systems will contribute and increase significantly the national added value to the project creating 500 employment positions during the construction period (2 years) and 200 new permanent job positions during its operation.

Helios Project—Massive Solar Energy Production Possible
The Greek government has announced interest in developing a massive solar energy project—the Helios Project—that would house 10 gigawatts of installed photovoltaics and have the capacity to export much of the energy to northern and western Europe. With one of the best solar profiles in Europe, Greece believes the medium-term project could attract 20 billion Euros of investment.

Reuters has reported that Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate Change George Papaconstantinou said, while announcing the proposal, “Greece enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, almost 50 percent more sun radiation than Germany, the global leader in solar photovoltaics.” 

Although considerable technical hurdles must be overcome for such a vast project to proceed, Greece is ideally positioned to produce such large amounts of solar energy for export and the project could have a major positive impact on Greece’s fiscal challenges.

Statement of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Evangelos Venizelos regarding structural changes decided by the Government: “I begin with privatisations. The programme of privatisation also has a cash component. We must collect specific amounts: € 5 billion in 2011, € 28 billion by 2014. This is vital, but it is not the most important. What is most important is that privatisation means a state that is smarter, more functional, more friendly to citizens, with less financial cost. It means investments, means new jobs. So we are going ahead with privatisations.”

The first wave of privatisations will include:
• Extending the license of OPAP
• New OPAP licenses
• Athens International Airport to extend the period of concession
• New allocation of frequencies for mobile telephony
• DEPA (Public Gas Corporation),
• Participation of the Greek government in Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE)
• The first group of buildings that house public services can be sold and then re-leased with a very serious financial gain.

“We are proceeding with the above right away. The Ministerial Privatisation Committee, as delegated by the Cabinet, tomorrow will transfer these assets to the State Fund for the Development of the Private Property of the State. And the same will happen, with a very fast pace, for those programmes that mature, or that need to become mature by the Fund itself, which has a bipartisan administration, and observers from the Eurozone and the European Commission and is under the control of the House and the Court Congress.”