Greece's PPC wins lignite challenge in EU antitrust case
BRUSSELS, Sept 20 |
BRUSSELS, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Europe's second-highest court ruled in favour of Greek power firm PPC's continued lignite monopoly on Thursday, striking down an EU antitrust finding that judges said had failed to show the utility abused its dominant position.
PPC, in which the Greek state holds a 51 percent stake, makes most of its electricity from lignite and is the second-biggest producer of the brown coal in the European Union.
European Commission regulators found in 2008 that Greece's decision to grant PPC a monopoly in lignite production blocked competition, in breach of EU antitrust rules. PPC subsequently challenged the finding at the Luxembourg-based General Court.
The court's judges found in its favour and scrapped the Commission's decision.
"It does not follow from that case-law that the mere fact that the undertaking in question finds itself in an advantageous situation in comparison with its competitors, by reason of a state measure, in itself constitutes an abuse of a dominant position," the court said on Thursday.
PPC shares were up 6.6 percent at 4.18 euros on Thursday, outperforming the Athens market.
The European Commission said it would study the verdict. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice, Europe's highest, only on points of law.
Athens has said it plans to sell a stake in PPC or some of its lignite-fired plants as part of state disposals to comply with the terms of Greece's EU/IMF bailout.
The case is T-169/08, DEI vs the European Commission. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Rex Merrifield)
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