The state will acquire all of the shares in the mother company of gas utility Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) through a debt-equity swap.
“The importance and success of the step we have taken today is that the state is gaining total control over gas prices for Slovak households and small and medium-sized enterprises,” Prime Minister Robert Fico told the TASR newswire after the cabinet meeting September 4. “Obtaining the 100-percent ownership of SPP will not put a burden on the public budget even though we are taking over half of the company’s debt. We split the existing debt in half with the Czech partner (Energetický a Prúmyslový Holding-EPH). Also, we are acquiring the revenues from the sale of reserve gas worth €170 million. We plan to use this money to cover losses from the sale of gas to households,” Fico said. He also said that the state can guarantee that the losses from the sale of gas to households will be compensated for by the sale of gas reserves over a period of several years.
“There are instruments for gradually improving the economy of SPP as a trader, which could be without a loss in three to four years,” Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.
“We also want to renegotiate with Russia,” Fico said as quoted by TASR. In doing so, Slovakia hopes “to decrease SPP's losses by half in subsequent years, which will make the operation of SPP more efficient”. He went on explain that, given the structural change in SPP, Slovakia now faces no international arbitrations.
Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský added at the press conference that “all the equity shares held by SPP in its subsidiaries remain unchanged. The dividend policy negotiated in 2012 also remains unchanged”. Thus, EPH remains a shareholder in the distribution and storage arms of the company, plus in Eustream – the largest gas TSO (transmission system operator) in the EU, tASR wrote.
EPH, controlled by Czech entrepreneurs Daniel Křetínský and Petr Kellner and Slovak financial group J&T, became a co-owner of SPP in January of this year when it acquired 49-percent ownership of SPP from E.ON and GDF Suez for €2.6 billion. The state is now acquiring the shares from EPH by assuming a debt of €59 million. This, according to government officials, is the total price for purchase of the EPH's share in the mother company.
(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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