CEZ Mulls Selling its Business in Bulgaria
Czech-based holding CEZ said late in January it considered withdrawing from the Bulgarian market.
CEZ holds the biggest power supply business in Bulgaria (providing electricity to more than 3 million customers), with revenues to the tune of BGN 1.4 B, the biggest electricity distribution company, several hydropower plants, and a now defunct thermal power plant.
Companies from France, Turkey and Romania have already shown interest in a possible deal, alongside "local holdings" with no substantial presence in the energy sector, according to Capital daily, which cites its own sources.
The daily cites constantly changing regulations in the energy sector and low profit as the more likely reasons for CEZ's intention, rather than "interest shown from investors" as the company has suggested.
Having entered Bulgaria in 2004, CEZ went through tumultuous years in its relationship with the Bulgarian regulator, KEVR, and the national electricity utility company NEK.
In July, it took Bulgaria to a court of arbitration over "failure to observe the investment protection provisions of the Energy Charter Treaty."
Petr Baran, a former CEZ director, told the Bulgarian National Radio that if the holding was indeed pulling out of the market, that sent a clear signal something was "wrong" in Bulgaria.
"It just means that a foreign investor is looking for stability, for clear rules that, if observed, give certainty that it could pursue its business. If these conditions aren't met, foreign investors would would hardly be interested in investing into Bulgaria."
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