* State-controlled PPC selling majority stake in ADMIE
* Three power grid operators, one pension fund can bid
* Elia seeks growth, pursues European grid strategy
* ADMIE CEO says SGCC has significant interest
(Adds comment by Elia, background on SGCC and ADMIE)
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, Aug 12 Belgian power grid operator Elia,
State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), Italian grid operator
Terna and Canadian pension fund PSP Investments have been
shortlisted to bid for a 66 percent stake in Greek grid operator
ADMIE, a source familiar with the bidding process told Reuters.
Elia is acting in concert with Australian
infrastructure investment fund IFM, with whom it bought German
grid operator 50Hertz from Sweden's Vattenfall in 2010. Elia now
owns 60 percent of 50Hertz, IFM 40 percent.
"We have been shortlisted for a possible ADMIE bid. We have
not made a formal offer yet. The next stage is the due diligence
phase," Elia spokeswoman Barbara Verhaegen said.
Verhaegen said that following the 50Hertz acquisition Elia
had always said it was interested in other opportunities to
expand in European grids.
"We are a listed company, we are seeking growth," she added.
ADMIE's chairman and chief executive Yiannis Yiarentis told
Reuters by email that Chinese power grid operator SGCC was one
of the parties interested in ADMIE.
"There is indeed significant interest from SGCC for
acquiring the 66 percent of ADMIE," Yiarentis said.
The ADMIE privatisation offers a rare opportunity to acquire
a majority stake in a European grid operator.
Five years after the European Commission pushed through the
unbundling of power generators from grid operators no major grid
player has emerged, despite far-reaching consolidation and
cross-border ownership in the power generation industry.
Dutch TenneT, which also bought one of Germany's four major
power grids, is the only other EU grid operator besides Elia to
have bought a controlling stake in a large grid in another
Several other grid operators who had been keen to buy stakes
in other EU grids have been outbid by infrastructure funds, who
are eager to invest in high-voltage transmission lines because
of the steady, regulated returns they offer.
In 2012, China's State Grid bought 25 percent of Portuguese
grid operator REN and last month it entered Italy with
a deal to buy 35 percent of CDP Reti for at least 2.1 billion
euros ($2.8 billion) as part of an investment drive in the
State-controlled Greek power utility PPC, which
owns ADMIE, said in May that it had received five expressions of
interest for ADMIE, which runs about 11,000 kilometres (7,000
miles) of high-voltage power lines across the country.
Sources had told Reuters that SGCC, Terna and Elia
were among them.
The Greek government wants ADMIE's buyer to invest 2.5
billion euros to extend its grid to several islands and lay new
connections to neighbouring countries such as Italy.
Most Greek islands currently lack links to the mainland grid
and therefore depend on polluting, blackout-prone, oil-fired
power stations to provide electricity to the millions of
tourists they attract each summer.
(Editing by James Regan and Greg Mahlich)