CEZ sale: back to square one

1 February 2002

Dukovany and Temelin will remain in state hands for the time being, following the Czech government's decision to reject revised bids for the sell-off of CEZ. Finance minister Jiri Rusnok and trade and industry minister Miroslav Gregr have until the end of February to produce fresh proposals for the future of CEZ. They will have to decide whether to continue with the sale of the government's 67% share in the utility, along with the national grid and majority shareholdings in six of the country's eight regional power companies - or to postpone the privatisation until after the general election - scheduled for June 2002.

Prime minister Milos Zeman stressed that the government would not stoop to begging for money in the sale.

The government rejected initial bids for CEZ last December, and invited fresh offers from Electricité de France (EdF) and a consortium of Italy's Enel and Spain's Iberdrola. Both offers failed to meet the government's minimum expectations of $5.56 billion, and EdF had major reservations about some of the conditions that were associated with the sale.

Meanwhile, Gregr offered his resignation in connection with delays in the commissioning of Temelin. However, Zeman refused his resignation, saying that the delays were due to a culmination of factors over a period of many years.

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