CEZ’s attempts to sell Bulgarian assets reportedly suspended

CEZ’s attempts to sell Bulgarian assets reportedly suspended
Energy Minister Temenujka Petkova visits the modernised Chervena Mogila electricity substation on September 18.
By bne IntelliNews September 19, 2017

The sale procedure initiated by CEZ for its assets in Bulgaria has been suspended, Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Temenujka Petkova said quoted by investor.bg. The deal is entirely within the scope and competencies of the Czech state, which owns CEZ, the minister said during a visit to Pernik on September 18.

Czech utilities company CEZ, which owns one of the three regional electricity distribution companies in Bulgaria, had received several binding offers for its business in the country by late August. The company had previously said that bids were being evaluated, and it is not clear why the process has apparently now been suspended.  

"What I know is that this procedure is suspended - whether temporarily or permanently, but no matter what the Czech state will decide, the buyer will have to be checked by our regulator," Petkova said.

Several days earlier, CEZ CEO Daniel Benes told Czech media that the company would decide by September whether to stay in Bulgaria or sell the business.

In Bulgaria, CEZ operates an electricity distribution business with 2mn customers, a retail electricity supplier, and a wholesale trader. The energy group also owns the coal-fired power plant Varna (closed since 2015 due to the lack of ecological installations). with an installed capacity of 1,265 MW and two renewable sources plants.

Speaking on September 18, Petkova also spoke out in defence of Bulgaria's coal-fired plants. Coal power plants provide just over 40% of the country's electricity and these are basic capacities for Bulgarian energy system that can not be replaced, she explained. Moreover, there are lignite reserves that could meet the country’s needs for the next 60 years, the minister said. She announced that a request for an open-ended derogation is currently being prepared in relation to the requirements of the European Commission.

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