Czech billionaire’s holding to sell Prague heating plant operator to Veolia

Illustrative photo: archive of Radio Prague International

Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský’s EPH, the largest energy holding in Central Europe, is selling the heating plant firm Pražská teplárenská to the French transnational Veolia for an undisclosed price, EPH spokesman Daniel Častvaj informed on Monday. The transaction, which is yet to be approved by the Office for the Protection of Competition, would see one of the largest heating plant companies in the Czech Republic change hands.

Mr Křetínský acquired a 25 percent stake in Pražská teplárenská in 2017, with the shares being valued at the time at around CZK 3.1 billion. The company supplies heating to more than 230,000 households and other facilities such as schools and hospitals. Its year-on-year revenues grew by 3.3 percent to CZK 580 million last year.

According to the billionaire, the divestment was agreed to in the context of EPH’s long-term cooperation with Veolia in developing low-emission heat sources and Veolia’s good quality administration of heat plants.

The French company will also acquire Bert, the largest heat producer in Budapest from EPH, which currently owns nearly 96 percent of Bert shares. The deal is also yet to be validated by the local fair-competition organ and certain technical parameters have to be fulfilled. Again, neither company has disclosed the price for which the shares are being sold.

Veolia employs nearly 180,000 people worldwide and already has a base in the Czech Republic, with local branches active in nine regions, including Prague. It is primarily known in the country as the operator of the capital’s water and waste network. In 2016, it bought Pražská plynárenská LPZ a daughter company of the Prague heat supplier.

EPH controls more than 70 companies in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and France. Daniel Křetínský owns 94 percent of its shares. Even with Pražská teplárenská sold, EPH will continue to own several heat plant operators in the Czech Republic including the North Bohemian United Energy and East Bohemian Elektrárny Opatovice.