Getting a grip on Greek potential -- Mytilineos Group

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Greek metals, energy and defence holding company Mytilineos has strengthened its position in the domestic energy sector by acquiring stakes in two local companies with portfolios of wind and hydro electric projects. The deals, which will cost around EUR 25 million, form part of Mytilineos' strategy to grow its energy business by exploiting opportunities in Greece's deregulated energy market and to achieve a balanced energy portfolio. The company says it aims to have 500 MW of renewables in operation by 2010, of which at least 80% will be wind powered. Including these recent deals, it plans to invest EUR 350 million in wind energy over the next three years.

The buying spree started in April when Mytilineos agreed to buy Spider Energy for EUR 9.1 million. Spider Energy is active in the development, construction and operation of wind and hydro facilities. It has 6.79 MW of small hydro in operation and 66.55 MW of wind under development in three projects with production licences, the first stage in the permitting process. The company has applied for licences for a further 195 MW of wind.

In early May, Mytilineos committed to buying 52.6% of Delta Project for EUR 16 million. Its stake may rise to 70% if shareholders exercise an anticipated option to offer a proportion of their shares. Delta is a listed construction and energy company specialising in the turnkey delivery and operation of wind and hydro units. It owns Delta Energy and Ionia Energy, two wind power projects of 18 MW under development and a further 65 MW in the licensing process. In addition, it has 7 MW of hydro in operation, 21 MW in construction, and 48 MW under development.

Mytilineos snapped up Delta Project from under the nose of Rokas, Greece's largest wind developer and producer, now owned 49.9% by Spain's Iberdrola. In December, Rokas signed a memorandum of understanding with Delta Project to buy a majority stake. The board and shareholders opted for Mytilineos' proposal. "Mytilineos has a very good relationship with Delta Project and views the acquisition as forming a strong partnership between the two companies," says Emanuel Perakis at Mytilineos. The intention is to build on Delta Project's expertise by making it the renewables arm of Mytilineos.

Prior to these two acquisitions, Mytilineos held energy licences for 750 MW of thermal generation, comprising a co-production unit under construction at Agios Nikolaos in the Viotia prefecture of central mainland Greece. Its subsidiary Mytilineos Hellenic Wind Power (MHWP) recently inaugurated its first 17 MW plant at Sidirokastro, near Serres in Macedonia, and is about to start work on a 6 MW unit at Platanos, Crete. MHWP also has four projects totalling 46 MW on Evia Island and one of 15 MW on Andros, in the Cyclades. Though fully licensed, these will have to wait until the grid connection to the mainland is in place, currently scheduled for 2007.

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