China State Grid quietly builds Mediterranean power network
* SGCC eyes Greek, Spain grids after Portugal, Italy bids
* State Grid set to build regional EU grid portfolio
* Hands-off style eases fears of foreign grid ownership
* Low yield requirements let it outbid funds, EU grids
By Geert De Clercq, Charlie Zhu and Stephen Jewkes
PARIS/HONG KONG/MILAN, Aug 10 (Reuters) - The European Commission has long wanted the continent's power grids to work in unison for reasons of efficiency and supply security, so far to little avail, but a regional power network could soon be a reality, courtesy of State Grid Corporation of China.
While Europe's utilities have met hostility to cross-border forays and been outbid by infrastructure funds, State Grid, the world's largest utility by revenues, with its deep pockets and reputation for hands-off management, has had an easier ride, buying minority stakes in Portuguese and Italian grid operators and pursuing designs on Greece and Spain, too.
If all goes to plan, it would become the first utility to build a major regional electricity grid portfolio, a feat that the Commission had hoped Europe's big grid operators would have achieved in the five years since it forced the separation of the grids from power production to increase market competition.
For wholly state-owned State Grid, which distributes electricity to 1.1 billion people across 90 percent of China, the appeal of the consistent, regulated income from European power assets is obvious. Continuación...