THE STATE can now assume control of a 100-percent share in the Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) gas utility after receiving approval from the Antimonopoly Office (PMÚ). The office stated that the purchase of the remaining minority package from Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH) will not violate the principles of market competition, the SITA newswire reported on February 4.

The PMÚ also had no problem with the state controlling SPP’s subsidiaries, like SPP Foundation, Ecofund, SPP CNG and SPP CZ. The decision, however, is not valid yet.

The state, which owns a 51-percent stake in SPP, still has to declare whether it will acquire the remaining shares from EPH by the end of June. The original deadline was the end of 2013. Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský told SITA in December that the state still needs to negotiate better terms for deliveries of gas from Russian Gazprom. Moreover, it has to resolve problems with the gas reserves.

The Slovak government green-lighted the takeover of the 49-percent stake and managerial control in SPP from the EPH in September 2013. In exchange, the government will take over half of the company’s debt, €59 million, from EPH.