Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský has not yet been officially informed about any intention of the Italian group Enel to sell its 66-percent stake in Slovenské Elektrárne (SE), Slovakia’s dominant power producer.

“They have not yet informed us; I am going to meet with the new head of Slovenské Elektrárne next week," said Malatinský as quoted by the SITA newswire, after Wednesday’s (June 11) cabinet session. The minister allegedly only knows that the Italian group has placed SE among the portfolio of companies that could be sold. Malatinský added that the portfolio comprises companies worth €11 billion, while their ambition is to sell assets worth €4 billion. He went on to say that unofficially, several potential buyers have been mentioned.

“We have some unofficial information, but it is difficult to say who is negotiating in Rome,” Malatinský told SITA. “For long, we have had the information that ČEZ could be a potential bidder. So let us see.”

The Czech energy group ČEZ did not want to comment on minister’s statements. “We had eminent interest in Slovenské Elektrárne several years ago, as mutual interconnection due to our common history within one state would make sense,” ČEZ spokeswoman Barbora Pulpánová said for the portal. “We are still interested in the Slovak market, but we will not comment on specific options.”

The minister also commented on the possibility that a Russian company would buy the shares of the power producer. “It is an investor like any other and we have to be prepared for such discussions,” Malatinský said. “It is ultimately a sensitive issue in the current geopolitical situation, but we don’t yet have embargoes that would prevent Russian firms from investing in Europe.” This speculation has been prompted by the fact that Russian bank Sberbank will provide a loan of €870 million to SE for 7.5 years. Malatinský told Sme, however, that the state’s minority share means that the company might be sold even without them knowing in advance.

On June 11, the Russian state company Rosatom “abstained from commenting” on the possibility of entering Slovak market, the Sme daily wrote. It also quoted Malatinský as admitting that if Russians had insider information on Slovak power plants, this would deepen Slovak dependence on Russian natural resources.

Slovenské Elektrárne is the largest power producer in Slovakia. In April 2006, the Italian energy giant Enel SpA became its main shareholder with a 66-percent stake. The remaining 34 percent is in the hands of the National Property Fund, while the Finance Ministry executes the shareholders’ rights. SE operates installed capacity of 5,739 MW at its plants.

(Source: SITA, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.