Czech govt negotiates with three bidders on CEZ privatisation

And talking about privatisation revenues, deputy Finance Minister Tomas Potmesil said that the Cabinet is negotiating with three companies interested in the privatisation of the Czech power utility CEZ and six regional distribution companies, following a failure of a public tender for sale of the electricity industry to a strategic partner. The government tried to sell the electricity companies last month, but none of the bidders met their strict tender conditions. The government's follow-up request for new bids from the Italian-Spanish consortium Enel-Iberdrola and France's Electricite de France also failed to bring in submissions fulfilling the required conditions.

The three companies in question now reportedly include UK's International Power, German RWE and Electricite de France. However, there has also been speculation that the Ministry of Industry and Trade is planning to initiate exclusive talks with RWE to buy the power package for the government's asking price of 200 billion CZK (5.5 billion US dollars). Last month, in a related privatisation tender, RWE submitted the winning bid of 133 billion crowns for the government's share of the natural gas company Transgas. According to a report in the weekly Prague Business Journal, RWE is now eyeing possible dominance of the Czech power sector by combining the country's largest gas and electric utilities.