ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece plans to liquidate Larco, one of Europe’s biggest nickel producers which is struggling under heavy debt, and then look for an investor for some of the company’s assets, its energy minister said on Friday.
The European Commission said in November it was taking Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to recover 135.8 million euros ($150.7 million) of illegal state aid to Larco.
The ECJ ruled in 2017 that Greece needed to recover the money, based on a Commission decision in 2014 related to capital injections and state guarantees.
Greece will start a liquidation process for Larco in the coming days before putting up for sale a smelting plant and some of its mines in two separate chunks, Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said in an interview with a Greek radio station.
“Larco is the most troubled company in Greece right know and the situation has been dragging on for 35 years,” Hatzidakis said. “We are determined to go ahead (with its overhaul).”
Larco owes 340 million euros in unpaid bills to Greek power utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) (DEHr.AT), has no environmental licensing and needs to pay 50 million euros in fines for environmental violations, he said.
Industry sources said private equity fund Global Special Opportunities Ltd (GSOL) might be interested in Larco.
Greece owns 55% of Larco, National Bank of Greece (NBGr.AT) 33.4% and PPC the rest. Larco employs about 1,000 people in Greece.
Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter