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CEZ Still sees Chance to Acquire Slovenske Elektrarne

Czech power giant CEZ still believes it has a chance to buy a 66 % state-owned stake in the Slovak power producer Slovenske eleketrarne (SE), despite a recommendation by the steering committee for SE’s sale in favor of Italy’s Enel, CEZ board member Radomir Lasak told journalists Monday.

CEZ views SE as a strategic investment and will fight to the finish to acquire it, according to Lasak.

With that in mind, CEZ managers have requested that Slovak Economy Minister Pavol Rusko launch parallel talks on SE’s sale with their firm, which came in second in the tender, behind Enel.

The privatization committee overseeing SE’s sale recommended Enel as the winner of the tender on September 10, on the strength of its EUR 840 mln bid. CEZ offered EUR 690 bn, while Russia’s Inter RAO bid EUR 547 mln.

CEZ officials claim the bids are not directly comparable because of their structure. They also reject claims that CEZ would dismiss a large number of SE employees if the gained control of the firm.

While Rusko said earlier that he was content with the way the privatization process was going, he has also noted that the steering committee’s recommendation was not binding and has stressed that the Cabinet will make the final decision.

SE accounts for over 85 % of power production in Slovakia. The firm operates three nuclear power plants, two thermal plants and 34 hydroelectric power stations.

(Interfax 24.ix.04)

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