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Anti-Monopoly Office Blocks Sale of State’s Stake in OKD

The Czech Anti-Monopoly Office (UOHS) has blocked the sale of the state’s 46 % stake in the black coal mining firm Ostravsko-karvinske doly (OKD) to the Karbon Invest (KI) concern, the UOHS press department announced late Wednesday.

According to the UOHS, KI’s CZK 2.25 bn offer is inadequate, fails to correspond to market conditions and constitutes public support, which is prohibited under the CR’s Europe Agreement with the EU.

Initially, KI offered CZK 1.2 bn for the stake, which is controlled by the National Property Fund (FNM). It later it raised its offer to CZK 2.25 bn.

Finance Ministry spokesman Marek Zeman told Interfax Thursday that the Finance Ministry and the FNM are currently analyzing the UOHS’s decision and should issue a stance on the matter by the end of next week.

KI has not commented on the issue yet either, and according to its spokesman Jiri Hrabovsky, it will also continue to examine the ruling.

In November 2003, the government granted three-month exclusivity to KI, which already holds OKD’s majority stake.

Interest in OKD was also expressed by the Czech/Slovak financial group Penta, which offered CZK 3.1 bn for the state’s stake in March, just ahead of the government’s final decision on the sale.

With 17,000 employees OKD is one of the largest employers in the North Moravian region. Last year, OKD showed a profit of CZK 220 mln and extracted 11 mln tonnes of coal. The KI group also comprises the trading firm Metalimex and the mining concern Ceskomoravske doly (CMD).

The state plans to transfer the majority of proceeds from the sale of OKD to the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure.

(Interfax 07.v.04)

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