Macquarie Asset Management is in for the long haul with its planned investment in Greek power grid operator HEDNO, a senior executive at the investment manager told Reuters, pointing to the opportunity presented by the electrification of the Greek economy.
Public Power Corp (PPC), Greece’s biggest power utility, said last week it had agreed to sell 49% of fully-owned power grid operator HEDNO to Australia-based Macquarie AM in a deal which valued the stake at 2.1 billion euros, including debt.
HEDNO operates Greece’s electricity backbone, a 242,000 km long grid which brings power to about 7 million households and businesses across Greece, a country which has committed to replacing coal-fired power by 2025.
The grid mainly consists of overhead cables susceptible to failing in adverse weather. PPC plans to spend about 170 million euros by 2024 to upgrade it and to boost its capacity to carry more power produced by fast-growing renewables.
“The electrification of the Greek economy represents a major opportunity,” Martin Bradley, a senior managing director at Macquarie Asset Management, part of Macquarie Group, told Reuters.
“The fund through which we have invested in HEDNO… makes very long-term investments in regulated businesses, and HEDNO matches this profile perfectly.”
Bradley said that Macquarie wanted to help PPC speed up its investment in HEDNO to make the grid smarter for the benefit of consumers and more resilient to natural disasters by examining selective undergrounding.
“Network resilience is very important, particularly in the context of climate change and more extreme weather events,” he said.
Greece, which had emerged from a multi-year debt crisis before the coronavirus pandemic shaved off 9% of its output last year, has been looking for private investors to modernise its key infrastructure and prop up growth.
It plans to tender projects worth about 5 billion euros in the coming months, including new roads and rail links to its biggest ports.
“The privatisation programme is ambitious and opening up a lot of opportunities for infrastructure investors,” Bradley said. “We hope our investment in HEDNO is the first of many in Greece”.