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Energy expert: The controversial amendment to the Energy Act concerning regulator’s interference in the CEZ deal poses risks to economy and investments

Energy expert: The controversial amendment to the Energy Act concerning regulator’s interference in the CEZ deal poses risks to economy and investments

1 June 2018 | 15:43 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The controversial amendment to the Energy Act that was adopted hastily to provide the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (KEVR) with a possibility to interfere in the deal between CEZ power utility and Intercom will be harmful, it poses risks to economy and investments in Bulgaria, Slavcho Neykov, an expert in energy policies, told Focus Radio.
The amendments were prompted by the need to ensure security of supply, protection of national security and public order, Neykov explained. “The text is filled with contradictions, it is unclear and unfeasible. It does not solve problems, it creates them, and if it is not repealed, there is a real risk that it will not only block transactions but could lead to serious financial repercussions for the state. And it is unfeasible because it introduces obligations to KEVR that the regulator cannot really fulfil – they contradict market principles by obliging the commission to intervene in deals between private entities,” Neykov explained, adding that adopting provisions in any law because of a particular deal is never a good practice. According to the expert, the amendments should be repealed as they could affect the reputation of Bulgaria as a good investment destination, which is not what the country needs now in view of the forthcoming discussions on major investment projects such as Belene NPP.
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Energy expert: Over BGN 1 billion at stake in case of arbitration over CEZ deal

Energy expert: Over BGN 1 billion at stake in case of arbitration over CEZ deal

23 May 2018 | 15:19 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Over BGN 1 billion will be at stake in case of arbitration over the CEZ deal, energy expert Galina Alexandrova said, sharing her position on the matter.
“The most recent example of interference in private companies’ affairs, contrary to EU law, was the political pressure to halt the deal for selling the Czech power utility CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria. After the government backed down from its plans to get involved in the deal, CEZ and the buyer were interrogated by the parliamentary committee on energy, and an ad-hoc committee was set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deal,” said Alexandrova.
“Meanwhile, the Parliament has decided that the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (KEVR) will have the power to rule on commercial deals. Transferring these powers to the CEZ deal, which in legal sense was closed with the signing of the contract, would be even a grosser interference in a private company’s affairs. And it will be a trump card for the Czech company, which in case of termination of the deal will file an arbitration case against Bulgaria. The buying company, Inercom, will also request arbitration for costs incurred and lost profits. Thus, the political short-sightedness and indecisiveness can cost over BGN 1 billion, which will be paid from the budget, i.e, by the Bulgarian taxpayers,” the expert commented.
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BSP sends to regulator petition against CEZ deal

BSP sends to regulator petition against CEZ deal

18 May 2018 | 17:43 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) has submitted a petition with 200,000 signatures against the announced deal for CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria, Focus News Agency reports. The petition was submitted to the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) because of its new powers to give consent to transactions with assets of energy companies, BSP MP Zhelyo Boychev told reporters. In response to comments from rival party GERB that there were still no criteria for EWRC to stop the deal, Boychev insisted that the regulator had new powers after the latest amendments to the law on energy.
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With 148 votes in favour and 48 abstentions, MPs endorse report of ad-hoc committee on CEZ deal and demand that electricity distribution companies be deemed strategic entities of national security

With 148 votes in favour and 48 abstentions, MPs endorse report of ad-hoc committee on CEZ deal and demand that electricity distribution companies be deemed strategic entities of national security

17 May 2018 | 12:36 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. With 148 votes in favour and 48 abstentions, the Parliament approved the report of the ad-hoc committee on the CEZ deal, Focus News Agency reports. Together with the report, the MPs adopted a draft decision, which instructed the Council of Ministers to carry out an in-depth analysis of the implementation of the government’s targets in the adopted privatisation strategy for the electricity distribution companies. The MPs decided that by 31 December 2018, the government would revise its ordinance on defining strategic sites, entities and activities of national security in the energy sector, including core assets and activities of the electricity distribution companies. The National Assembly decided that within the same timeframe the security services should provide a detailed analysis of the planned sale of CEZ Group companies, and the Bulgarian National Bank should provide information about the commitments made by the Bulgarian banks in the deal.
The ad-hoc committee on CEZ was established by a decision of the National Assembly on 14 March 2018. It was set up in response to a strong public reaction to the decision of the Supervisory Board of CEZ Group, published on 22 February 2018, which agreed to sell its assets to Inercom Bulgaria EAD. The report states that the committee focused its work on two main areas – the privatisation of the majority stake in the capital share of the electricity distribution companies in Western Bulgaria and clarification of all circumstances surrounding the planned sale of CEZ.

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Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: Committee on CEZ did not answer the questions of who and with what money is buying the assets

Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: Committee on CEZ did not answer the questions of who and with what money is buying the assets

10 May 2018 | 18:20 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The inquiry committee on the sale of CEZ’s business in Bulgaria has failed to answer the questions of who and with what money is buying the assets, committee chairman Zhelyo Boychev, BSP, said. At its last meeting, the committee approved the report on the results of its work, which will be considered by the Parliament, Focus News Agency reports. The task was partially done, according to Boychev. The committee has found some weaknesses in the law and the responsibilities of the institutions. “There is still no closed deal, but in the end the committee was denied information, which I consider to be extremely wrong,” he stated. “I also do not accept that the Bulgarian special services have no information about the progress of or the involved in such deals. […] Without answering the question of who and how is financing the CEZ deal, we cannot be sure who the buyer is,” the chairman said. Then he said that by requesting information, the committee had received a response from only one bank. He thinks that the law on credit institutions should be amended in respect of the term professional secrecy.
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Committee chairman says financing institutions did not provide requested information on CEZ deal

Committee chairman says financing institutions did not provide requested information on CEZ deal

8 May 2018 | 16:52 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Financing institutions did not provide requested information about the announced sale of CEZ’s business in Bulgaria, the chairman of the inquiry committee on the sale, Zhelyo Boychev, said after a meeting of the committee, Focus News Agency reports. According to Boychev, the committee cannot give necessary answers to Bulgarian people, as it was denied information on the grounds of professional secrecy. “At present they [Bulgarians] have reason for any doubts and speculation because of the lack of information, which was not provided to us by financing institutions to which we sent letters, including to the Bulgarian National Bank,” he said, adding that the Czech party had the complete information on the deal. According to Boychev, doubts remain about how the Bulgarian institutions paid attention to the sale and how the process could be controlled. He noted that it was not an ordinary commercial deal, as it was about a natural monopoly, a power distributor, and concerned security for Bulgarians and national security. “We have a number of unanswered questions, for example, how a firm of such size and with such assets can acquire such a strategic enterprise,” Boychev commented.
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Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: If buyer secures financing, CEZ deal will likely progress towards closing

Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: If buyer secures financing, CEZ deal will likely progress towards closing

18 April 2018 | 14:17 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. If the company seeking to acquire CEZ’s local assets succeeds in securing the financing it needs, the deal will likely progress towards closing, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said after the opening of a conference on Bulgaria’s oil refining industry, Focus News Agency reported. She commented that securing adequate financing was a responsibility of the candidate buyer. She mentioned that there were some indications from the seller that it might be considering negotiations with the bidder ranked second. “This is a procedure conducted entirely according to the rules of the Czech state and their laws. The Bulgarian state has no relation to this procedure,” Minister Petkova told reporters.
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Term of inquiry committee on CEZ deal extended till May 10

Term of inquiry committee on CEZ deal extended till May 10

18 April 2018 | 11:16 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Parliament extended the term of the inquiry committee on the CEZ Bulgaria sale until May 10, Focus News Agency reports. The extension was proposed by the committee itself, as it is waiting for additional information from the Ministry of Energy, the energy and financial regulators, the State Agency for National Security and other state institutions.
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Energy minister says Ginka Varbakova will not be the one to technically run CEZ’s operations

Energy minister says Ginka Varbakova will not be the one to technically run CEZ’s operations

17 April 2018 | 17:24 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that Inercom’s owner Ginka Varbakova would not be the one to technically manage the power distributor’s operations, Focus News Agency reports. Speaking at the last meeting of the Parliament’s committee on the CEZ deal, the minister sought to reassure the people amid the sale to Inercom Bulgaria, saying that the state was controlling and regulating power distribution through the energy regulator. She explained that back in time Bulgaria had decided to privatise that energy segment with clear motives, known to the investors. “Now, when other companies are buying assets, the Bulgarian citizens should know that these companies have the necessary management,” she said.
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Milena Stoeva, Inercom Bulgaria: The competition regulator hasn’t yet made a decision on the CEZ deal

Milena Stoeva, Inercom Bulgaria: The competition regulator hasn’t yet made a decision on the CEZ deal

17 April 2018 | 16:22 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) has not as of yet made a decision on the CEZ deal, Milena Stoeva, Chair of the Board of Directors of Inercom Bulgaria, said at the latest meeting of the ad-hoc committee on the CEZ deal, Focus News Agency reports. Inercom Bulgaria’s financial consultant Veselin Zahariev said that in terms of funding, things are moving in a more organised way. In his words, the talks are progressing. “We are waiting for the key moment - the CPC’ decision,” Zahariev commented.
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In a letter to parliament committee, CEZ says it repeatedly proposed to the state to buy assets, but the state was not interested

In a letter to parliament committee, CEZ says it repeatedly proposed to the state to buy assets, but the state was not interested

17 April 2018 | 15:53 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. In a letter to the Parliament’s committee on the CEZ sale in Bulgaria, the company says that since 2011 it has repeatedly proposed to the state to buy assets, but the state has not expressed willingness. This was stated by the committee’s chairman, Zhelyo Boychev, at the beginning of today’s committee meeting, Focus News Agency reports. CEZ also says that the potential buyers underwent standard checks by the company. The committee has also received a response from the Bulgarian prime minister’s office. It says that no talks have been held with the Czech government or CEZ for acquisition of the assets.
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Energy regulator to decide in a month whether to revoke CEZ’ licence

Energy regulator to decide in a month whether to revoke CEZ’ licence

13 April 2018 | 14:45 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. In a little more than a month, the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (KEVR) will decide whether to revoke the license of CEZ power utility, Commission’s Chairman Assoc. Prof. Ivan Ivanov said in a statement, Focus News Agency reports.
“The experts who have been looking into the documentation related to the revocation procedure of CEZ's licence told me they have completed their work, and on Monday I will issue an order for a working group that will draw up a report. The procedure requires, once the report is made, it should be made available to the KEVR members and then they will make a decision at a meeting,” Ivanov said.
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Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: We will ask to extend term for committee on CEZ by a month

Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: We will ask to extend term for committee on CEZ by a month

12 April 2018 | 14:09 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. MP Zhelyo Boychev said he will most probably ask the Parliament to extend the term of the committee on the CEZ sale in Bulgaria by one month. Until now, the committee has requested information from the prime minister, banks, regulators and the prosecutor general. It has also requested information from CEZ Group about their negotiations and conditions to potential buyers. “We expect answers to many important questions from the institutions,” said Boychev, who is committee chairman and MP for the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), quoted by Focus News Agency. The committee wants to know if there were any talks between the Bulgarian government and the Czech government or CEZ on the local assets of the company. They are also waiting for a response from the Bulgarian Development Bank in connection with the deal, as well as from the energy regulator about CEZ’ investments since 2005.
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Parliament adopts on first reading amendments to energy law about regulator powers and market liberalisation

Parliament adopts on first reading amendments to energy law about regulator powers and market liberalisation

4 April 2018 | 16:00 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Parliament approved on first reading two bills amending the energy law, Focus News Agency reports. The first one, proposed by United Patriots, empowers the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission to authorise transactions involving significant stakes in operators of strategic energy infrastructure. It will be essential that the companies acquiring the stakes be strategic investors able to guarantee the long-term sustainable development of the national energy system. In the event of breach, the operators’ licence could be withdrawn.
The second bill, proposed by GERB MP Delyan Dobrev and other MPs, is about energy market liberalisation. Some of the proposed measures oblige the power transmission and distribution operators to purchase electricity for technological costs on market principles. As part of measures to include more power generators in the free energy market, renewable energy and highly-efficient cogeneration plants with 4 MWh or more will get compensation equal to the difference between the envisaged and the market price.
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BSP wants explanation for shift in government stand on CEZ deal

BSP wants explanation for shift in government stand on CEZ deal

3 April 2018 | 17:57 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The leader of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Kornelia Ninova, demanded an explanation for the reversal in the state’s stand on the local CEZ deal and said that the government was behind some obscure interests in the power distributor. The party continues to insist that the state acquire CEZ Bulgaria, Kornelia Ninova wrote on Facebook, noting that the deal concerns national security and 3 million Bulgarians. Recalling Finance Minister Goranov’s statement in early March that the government was willing to participate in the deal one way or another, she asked what has changed since then. “Today Borissov’s hiding from the [inquiry] committee and the finance minister’s [latest] statement prove our thesis that the government is behind someone’s obscure interests set to acquire one-third of the power supplies,” Ninova wrote. She asked who took the decision that the state would not participate in the deal – the government or the prime minister alone – and what is the opinion of coalition partner United Patriots. She also asked if it was true that in a request to the regulator, CEZ wanted an increase in the electricity price.
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Ginka and Slavcho Varbakovi, and Inercom are not under investigation, says prosecutor-general

Ginka and Slavcho Varbakovi, and Inercom are not under investigation, says prosecutor-general

3 April 2018 | 16:16 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Ginka and Slavcho Varbakovi and their company Inercom are not under investigation, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov said at a meeting of the Temporary Parliamentary Committee on the CEZ deal, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“The CEZ deal is not the subject of an investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office as it is a matter of private-law relations,” the prosecutor said. “On 28 February, I received a letter from the head of the State Agency for National Security (SANS) requesting information from the Prosecutor's Office regarding Ginka and Slavcho Varbakovi, as well as Inercom, in relation to an inspection ordered by the prime minister. On 1 March, he received a response from us,” said Tsatsarov. “On 1 March, we received a similar inquiry from the secretary-general of the president. The same day a copy of the letter to SANS was sent to him,” he said.
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Minister Vladislav Goranov: The state will not participate in the CEZ deal

Minister Vladislav Goranov: The state will not participate in the CEZ deal

3 April 2018 | 15:47 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Bulgarian State has no intention to participate, one way or another, in the deal for the acquisition of CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said at a meeting of the Temporary Parliamentary Committee on the CEZ case, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“Over the last few weeks Prime Minister Borissov and I have come to an agreement that the state's participation in such a deal is inexpedient. We do not believe that, despite the great interest from the public, the state‘s involvement is the way to protect citizens’ interest. We have enough legislative mechanisms,” Minister Goranov commented.
“Whether the deal will be closed or not is beyond the regulatory functions of the state. We have no intention as the Executive to interfere in private law relations,” the minister said, adding that this could result in claims against the state.

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Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: Inquiry committee on CEZ will check all information

Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: Inquiry committee on CEZ will check all information

30 March 2018 | 11:06 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Parliament’s inquiry committee on the CEZ deal will examine all the information, its chairman Zhelyo Boychev, MP from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), told FOCUS Radio. He said that the privatisation of the power distributors in 2004 and subsequent developments in 2012 were within the scope of the committee. The committee is to ascertain who and with what money is buying CEZ and what the future of the power distributor will be. It will also look at the work of state institutions and regulators amid allegations of inaction, the MP said.
He added that Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was invited to the second meeting of the committee to present the arguments for the change in the government’s stand on the issue from non-interference to controlling participation in the deal.
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Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: There is no way for the government to answer questions on CEZ deal financing

Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: There is no way for the government to answer questions on CEZ deal financing

14 March 2018 | 13:16 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The CEZ deal started as a business deal but has escalated as some attempted to turn it into a political issue, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told Nova TV this morning. Contrary to the president’s statement, there is no way for the government to answer questions about the financing of the deal because it did not participate in the sale procedure, the minister said. “The Czech state is selling some of its assets, located in Bulgaria. It is not for the [Bulgarian] state to give answers about how the financing is structured,” she added. The government is considering options in the current situation. The minister did not elaborate on the highest price the state would be willing to pay if it is allowed to participate in the sale. “We understand people’s fears. We want to create the conditions to minimise them and reassure people that the state will have some controlling participation in this deal,” she said.
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PM Boyko Borissov: Everything about CEZ must be brought to light, it's not about liking or disliking

PM Boyko Borissov: Everything about CEZ must be brought to light, it's not about liking or disliking

14 March 2018 | 12:38 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. All facts about CEZ must be brought to light, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said at the beginning of the Government meeting today, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“We backed the creation of an inquiry committee on CEZ in Parliament, so that all facts about the company through the years become known. We didn’t deliberately put obstacles in their way, but we did want the power distribution companies to fulfil their contracts and commitments, and therefore all three companies were subject to inspections. It is not a matter of liking or disliking, they didn’t invest enough in the power distribution system, which was their obligation, but they didn’t meet it.
“The [inquiry] committee is a good thing, we can finally put an end to this manipulation of the public,” the prime minister said.
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President Rumen Radev to call CCNS on energy security in the country

President Rumen Radev to call CCNS on energy security in the country

13 March 2018 | 13:39 | FOCUS News Agency
Plovdiv. President Rumen Radev will call the Consultative Council on National Security to discuss energy security in the country, he told reporters, quoted by FOCUS Radio - Plovdiv. The issue of CEZ remains topical and the government has to answer the question of what is the scheme of financing and how the deal got political support, he said. “We all know that without such support this company [the buyer] cannot receive such great commitment from the banks,” Radev added. According to the president, it is unclear how the government would participate in the deal and who is negotiating on behalf of the Bulgarian state and on behalf of Inercom’s Ginka Varbakova. After receiving information from the services that had been regularly sent to the government, the president believes that there is reason to convene the CCNS.
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Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: Inercom has agreed that the state should participate in the CEZ deal – now it is the seller who will have its say

Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: Inercom has agreed that the state should participate in the CEZ deal – now it is the seller who will have its say

12 March 2018 | 13:14 | FOCUS News Agency
Belene. Inercom has agreed that the state should participate in the CEZ deal – now it is the seller who will have its say, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told reporters in reference to the deal between the Czech CEZ Group and Bulgarian Inercom, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“In 2003, these power distribution companies were privatised. The government cannot possibly be behind this CEZ deal. We are now waiting for the analyses on the Czech part. Meanwhile, we will also be analysing very carefully to make sure that the interests of the Bulgarian state will be protected,” she said.
“You understand that this (privatisation) happened more than 15 years ago, it was a strategy of the then government adopted by the then parliament. Now somebody wants to hold the GERB party and the current Government accountable for it. In 2003, GERB didn’t even exist,” the minister commented.
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Czech CEZ to explore options for Bulgarian state to take part in the deal

Czech CEZ to explore options for Bulgarian state to take part in the deal

9 March 2018 | 16:07 | FOCUS News Agency
Prague. Negotiations between CEZ and Inercom on fulfilling the conditions of the contract took place from Tuesday 6 March to this Friday 9 March. The main purpose of the meetings was the preparation of documents for the application to the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition. During the negotiations, representatives of Inercom also presented an official enquiry as to whether in the current situation there is a possibility for the Bulgarian state to get involved in the deal.
Even though the Bulgarian government did not express interest in entering the sales process that took place last year, CEZ will consider the request and will explore the option, CEZ Spokesperson Alice Horakova said in a press release published on the company's website.
In view of the limitations posed by the already signed contract between the two parties, CEZ and Inercom decided to prepare a thorough analysis of all variations and possible outcomes of Bulgaria’s state potential involvement in the process. In a few weeks, negotiations will continue.
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Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov: We will look into the privatisation agreement with CEZ as requested by BSP, the finances of CEZ’ buyer are already under investigation

Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov: We will look into the privatisation agreement with CEZ as requested by BSP, the finances of CEZ’ buyer are already under investigation

7 March 2018 | 17:45 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. We will look into the privatisation agreement with CEZ as requested by BSP (the Bulgarian Socialist Party), the finances of CEZ’ buyer are already under investigation, said Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“We received the BSP’s request yesterday. It consists of two parts. The first one insists on clarification of the source of funds for the deal with CEZ. SANS [the State Agency for National Security] and the National Revenue Agency are already looking into the finances of the company buying the Bulgarian assets of [Czech power utility] CEZ, as instructed by the prime minister. If they find any violations, including evidence for criminal offences, then we will intervene. The second part urges the prosecutor’s office to investigate all transactions that led to the privatisation agreement with CEZ [in 2004],” Tsatsarov commented.


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Inercom has nine months to pay the CEZ deal

Inercom has nine months to pay the CEZ deal

7 March 2018 | 14:38 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Inercom has nine months to pay CEZ after the deal’s finalisation, bTV said, citing the Czech company. Otherwise, the Czech company will claim the EUR 5-million bank guarantee issued for Inercom.
The negotiations between Inercom’s owner Ginka Varbakova and CEZ will continue until Friday. All formalities were gone through 20 days ago when the deal was signed in order to provide the documentation required by the Commission for Protection of Competition in Bulgaria. Additionally, however, the intention of the Bulgarian state to get involved in the deal was officially declared. Even if CEZ agrees to consider a change to the contract to allow the Bulgarian state to participate, this will be a long process, according to the CEZ’ spokesperson. The company’s lawyers will have to make sure that the changes will not harm the interests of the CEZ Group in its arbitration case against Bulgaria.
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Sofia: Protest backs BSP’s initiative to stop CEZ deal

Sofia: Protest backs BSP’s initiative to stop CEZ deal

7 March 2018 | 14:32 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. People protesting against the CEZ deal signed the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s (BSP) initiative to stop the deal in court, FOCUS News Agency reports. The party has said it will collect signatures from the power distributor’s customers to initiate a lawsuit. People at the protest demanded Prime Minister Boyko Borissov to resign. Joining the rally, BSP leader Kornelia Ninova congratulated them for their courage to stand up against those in power. In her words, different people and politicians were united across the country. “We want to get Bulgaria back from the parallel state called Boyko Borissov and Gang,” she said.
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Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: Buyer hopes to close talks with CEZ by weekend

Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: Buyer hopes to close talks with CEZ by weekend

6 March 2018 | 16:51 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The company acquiring the local assets of CEZ has said it will start talks with the seller this week and hopes to conclude them by the end of the week, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told reporters in the Parliament before a discussion on power market liberalisation in Bulgaria, FOCUS News Agency reports. The minister said that the Bulgarian buyer is willing to allow the state to participate in the deal so that the state could have a controlling share. “The deal has not been finalised, so everything is in the hands of the seller,” she commented.
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Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: There is no problem with the security of supply and the price of electricity

Minister Temenuzhka Petkova: There is no problem with the security of supply and the price of electricity

2 March 2018 | 17:18 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. There is absolutely no problem, neither in terms of security of supply nor of prices, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told reporters in reference to the CEZ deal, FOCUS News Agency reports. “Bulgarians shouldn’t be concerned. The ownership not only of CEZ, but also of ENERGO-PRO and other power utilities have changed. I understand that the topic comes in handy for those who want to exploit people’s fears, but there is no room for concern,” Minister Petkova commented. "The government is doing its job, people shouldn’t worry, there are no risks,” she added.
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Kornelia Ninova, BSP: State should acquire CEZ Bulgaria, we would not accept partnership with Ginka from Pazadzhik, banks and offshore companies

Kornelia Ninova, BSP: State should acquire CEZ Bulgaria, we would not accept partnership with Ginka from Pazadzhik, banks and offshore companies

2 March 2018 | 17:16 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The state should acquire the local assets of CEZ, BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said. A day after the government said it was willing to participate in a deal for CEZ, Ninova rejected any potential partnership of the state with offshore companies or Ginka Varbakova, owner of the selected buyer. The party leader told reporters in the Parliament that some banks were being investigated in other countries. “We do not agree that the Bulgarian state, the Bulgarian government be partner with obscure offshore companies we do not know who is behind, what capitals. We do not agree that it be partner with Ginka from Pazardzhik,” Ninova stressed, quoted by FOCUS News Agency. She called it a shady deal invented by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. According to Ninova, the security services sent a first report with information about the deal to the government and the prime minister in September 2017 and another one in October. She reaffirmed BSP’s intention to collect signatures from Bulgarian customers of CEZ for a legal action against the deal. “We will try to stop the deal in court,” the BSP leader said.
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Ginka Varbakova: I don’t have offshore companies

Ginka Varbakova: I don’t have offshore companies

1 March 2018 | 16:56 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. I don’t have offshore companies, owner of Inercom Bulgaria EAD, the company aspiring to buy Czech Energy Group CEZ, Ginka Varbakova said, answering a question at a joint meeting of the energy committee and the committee for control of the security services, FOCUS News Agency reports. She denied having met Prime Minister Boyko Borissov prior to the conclusion of the CEZ deal, further stating that she only met him today at the meeting in the Council of Ministers.
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Stoyan Mavrodiev, Bulgarian Development Bank: The bank is not involved in the CEZ deal

Stoyan Mavrodiev, Bulgarian Development Bank: The bank is not involved in the CEZ deal

1 March 2018 | 16:34 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. No money from the bank is involved in the CEZ deal, CEO of the state-owned Bulgarian Development Bank Stoyan Mavrodiev said at a joint meeting of the energy committee and the committee for control of the security services, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“Not once did Prime Minister Boyko Borissov or Minister of Finance Vladislav Goranov influence the bank in any of its transactions. It is strange that Bulgarian banks should take part in such a hearing, what’s more, only one of those cited in the media. As an institution guided by the principles of transparency, we are here out of respect for parliament,” said Stoyan Mavrodiev.
“We have stated twice very clearly: the bank has not extended a loan to Inercom and has not provided bank guarantees, neither for the purchase of CEZ nor for refinancing an existing loan to CEZ," the CEO explained referring to reports by Czech and Bulgarian media outlets.
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President Rumen Radev: Government’s chaotic action contradicts its own statements

President Rumen Radev: Government’s chaotic action contradicts its own statements

1 March 2018 | 16:30 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. President Rumen Radev said that the government has been acting chaotically in regard to the announced deal for the sale of CEZ’s local assets. “The chaotic action of the government contradicts its own statements,” President Radev told journalists when asked to comment on the government’s stated intention to acquire a controlling stake in CEZ’s assets, his press office said. “My concern is that the services failed in this case and, logically, the question is whether they serve the state or the comfort of the government. It is worrying that the democratic control mechanisms also seem to be powerless,” the president added. He expects rational decisions in the interest of Bulgaria, but the questions of why this has happened remain, according to the press release.
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Poll: What is happening around CEZ is abnormal and unacceptable for most Bulgarians

Poll: What is happening around CEZ is abnormal and unacceptable for most Bulgarians

1 March 2018 | 15:16 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The vast majority of Bulgarians are against what is happening with CEZ and want a more effective interference by the state, according to a quick phone survey by Bulgarian polling agency Gallup International, not related to Gallup Inc.
The whole society already knows about the scandal around CEZ, as 93% of the respondents say they heard about it. 72% of those who heard about it think the deal is abnormal and unacceptable, while only 16% consider it normal and acceptable. Obviously, the public opinion is unanimously against what is happening.
Therefore the Bulgarians blame the government – a majority of 61% says that the minister made a mistake, while a 56% majority thinks that Prime Minister Borissov made a mistake. Many of these answers are automatic and people logically blame the energy minister, the agency said. The results also reflect the higher popularity of the prime minister compared to Minister Petkova. However, even the high popularity of the prime minister cannot influence the public attitude, which is unambiguously critical of the actions by those in power until now.
Furthermore, 72% want the state to cancel the deal, while 17% think that the state should not interfere. As expected, the prevailing opinion is in support of the idea that the power distributor should be owned by the state. A majority of 75% support a potential acquisition of the company by the state, while 20% are against it.
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Political scientist Parvan Simeonov: Nothing implies major government turmoil in next months despite the CEZ case

Political scientist Parvan Simeonov: Nothing implies major government turmoil in next months despite the CEZ case

1 March 2018 | 14:28 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Nothing implies major turbulence in the government in the coming months despite the CEZ case, political scientist Parvan Simeonov told FOCUS Radio this morning. He said the issue has the potential to grow to the extent of the CorpBank case. He thinks the tension around the CEZ deal proves once again that when an authoritative figure like the prime minister is focused on international affairs, traps like this emerge and getting out of them is difficult.
“This shows some very alarming symptoms. First, the state has been in manual mode for a long time. It is used to it, it is inert, likes it, sees it as something usual, and when the institutions have to do their job, it is a problem. Imagine what an investment environment this is, with such things happening. Another indication – the Bulgarian society cannot accept the capitalist market reality, and if we cannot accept it, it is our problem. It is here to stay. The worst problem is that Bulgaria continues to be governed day to day. Nothing can convince the Bulgarians that the privatisation of the power distributors was worthwhile or that electricity can rise in price. It all means that as a society we do not tolerate anything but good news,” Parvan Simeonov said. He commented that in this context the government continues to keep bad news away from society. The government continues to avoid talking about reforms so as to maintain the illusory reality, at the expense of the coming generations, Simeonov said.
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BSP will ask court to stop CEZ deal

BSP will ask court to stop CEZ deal

1 March 2018 | 13:14 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) will collect signatures from Bulgarian customers of CEZ to file a class action lawsuit with the aim to stop the deal for the sale CEZ’s local assets, party leader Kornelia Ninova said after her meeting with the Czech ambassador to Bulgaria, FOCUS News Agency reports. The party considers filing a lawsuit in Bulgarian or Czech courts. “The Energy and Water Regulatory Commission say that they cannot and have no relation, that the law does not allow. The Commission for Protection of Competition is run by the mother of a GERB MP. What can we expect from these institutions? Therefore we will go to court,” Ninova said.
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State wants controlling stake in CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria

State wants controlling stake in CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria

1 March 2018 | 11:34 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. We clearly stated our will to participate in a deal for CEZ in one or another way, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said after a meeting between Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and Ginka Varbakova, owner of Inercom Bulgaria, in connection with the sale of CEZ’s assets in the country, FOCUS News Agency reports. Goranov said that the talks are at a preliminary stage. “If the Czech vendors agree, the state could participate in such a deal through budget funds or one of the energy companies,” the minister explained. “We are talking about a deal prepared outside the country, with more than a year and a half of history between private entities. We are engaging at a stage when there is a signed contract. You understand that we are in a delicate situation to depend on the will of two independent from the state, private entities – a Czech company and a Bulgarian private company, which has gone all the way to closing such a deal. We see willingness from the Bulgarian company to let the state into the deal,” Goranov said, adding that now the state expects to know the Czech opinion.
Asked what share the state could acquire, the minister said: “At least a controlling stake.”
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President Rumen Radev: I would call CCNS on energy in general, Belene NPP and CEZ are particular cases

President Rumen Radev: I would call CCNS on energy in general, Belene NPP and CEZ are particular cases

28 February 2018 | 16:11 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. I would convene the Consultative Council on National Security on a general subject about energy, Belene NPP and CEZ are particular cases, President Rumen Radev told reporters regarding the deal for the sale of CEZ’s business in Bulgaria, FOCUS News Agency reports. The president confirmed that he would be willing to talk to the Czech president, but stressed that the responsibility in this case lies with Bulgaria. “The names of banks and offshore companies have already emerged, and that is why I say that the mechanism of planning this financing is very important,” Radev commented. He expects an explanation about how a company without history and capacity obtained large bank guarantees to acquire the business and if it benefited from political support.
Representatives of the presidential administration will attend the hearing of people involved in the deal before parliamentary committees. Radev added that the lack of a national energy strategy until 2030 and 2050 is a major problem. “Without such a strategy, everything will be decided fragmentarily and we will have scandals one after another,” he said.
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Delyan Dobrev, GERB: No need for inquiry committee on CEZ

Delyan Dobrev, GERB: No need for inquiry committee on CEZ

28 February 2018 | 14:25 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. There is no need for an inquiry committee on the sale of CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria, as the Parliament has permanent committees dealing with this topic, MP Delyan Dobrev for ruling party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB/GERB), chairman of the energy committee, told reporters. He said that setting up a special committee, as proposed by BSP, would only generate extra costs for the Parliament, FOCUS News Agency reported. In his words, there are the energy committee and the committee overseeing the special services. “Our first meeting is tomorrow, everyone is invited. It will be broadcast live on the National Assembly’s website,” the MP said.
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Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: Since BDB is behind CEZ buyer, Boyko Borissov’s government is behind Ginka Varbakova

Zhelyo Boychev, BSP: Since BDB is behind CEZ buyer, Boyko Borissov’s government is behind Ginka Varbakova

28 February 2018 | 12:12 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Since the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) stands behind the buyer of CEZ, this means that the government of Boyko Borissov stands behind Ginka Varbakova, MP Zhelyo Boychev from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) said at a briefing in the Parliament, FOCUS News Agency reports. BSP has already proposed setting up an inquiry committee in the Parliament on the sale of CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria. Boychev said that either the prime minister is lying that he has no information about the deal or, if true, he is not fit for the position of prime minister. The MP added that BDB had lied that it was not involved in the deal with CEZ. Therefore BSP wants an explanation from the bank management at a meeting of the parliamentary energy committee tomorrow.
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PM Borissov asks Czech government for information on CEZ Group’s deal in Bulgaria

PM Borissov asks Czech government for information on CEZ Group’s deal in Bulgaria

27 February 2018 | 16:06 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. In a phone conversation with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov asked that the information the Czech government has about the deal for the sale of CEZ Group’s business in Bulgaria be presented to the Bulgarian authorities, the government press office said. The Bulgarian prime minister expressed concern that the buyer is not a company with experience on the market and noted that CEZ Bulgaria is part of the national security.
Prime Minister Babis said he was informed by CEZ Group’s board that the sale is completely lawful and does not pose a risk to any party. The buyer was checked both for the capacity to manage the power company and the origin of the funds for the acquisition. The checks showed no problems for the transaction.
The Czech prime minister is ready to provide the results of the checks to the Bulgarian authorities.
The buyer and the circumstances surrounding the deal will be checked by the State Agency for National Security and the National Revenue Agency. Borissov has also requested assistance from the financial and energy regulators.
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BSP proposes inquiry committee to clarify circumstances of CEZ deal

BSP proposes inquiry committee to clarify circumstances of CEZ deal

27 February 2018 | 15:16 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is proposing an inquiry committee in the Parliament to clarify the circumstances surrounding the deal with CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria, party leader Kornelia Ninova told reporters, quoted by FOCUS News Agency. “We want the deal for CEZ to be stopped through all possible legal mechanisms,” she added. According to the party, the deal is unclear, with unknown ultimate buyer, source of financing and future for the local power distributor. BSP will meet with the Czech ambassador on Thursday to hand him a letter to the Czech prime minister. BSP also wants the Bulgarian prime minister to speak before the Parliament tomorrow. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov personally bears the political responsibility, Ninova said. She also said that the Bulgarian state should compete for the assets if the deal is stopped and a new procedure is initiated.
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Energy and Water Regulatory Commission can check company buying CEZ only after deal is closed

Energy and Water Regulatory Commission can check company buying CEZ only after deal is closed

27 February 2018 | 14:39 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. By law, the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) will be able to check the company that will buy CEZ’s assets only after the closing of the deal, EWRC’s Chairman Assoc. Prof. Ivan Ivanov said at a press briefing on the regulatory powers of the Commission in the sale of the CEZ Group’s assets in Bulgaria, FOCUS News Agency reports.
“There are only two scenarios when the EWRC may intervene – if a separate part of a licensed company is being sold (in this case there is no such thing, the company is sold in its entirety), or if the buyer pledges partially or entirely its assets used in the implementation of the licensed activity. The procedure for the acquisition of CEZ is still running, when the deal is finalised, the EWRC will have clearly defined powers related to preventive, ongoing and follow-up control over the energy company, regardless of who the new owner is, to ensure security of supplies and quality of service,” said Ivanov.
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President Rumen Radev: Energy minister’s quick resignation triggers more questions on CEZ deal

President Rumen Radev: Energy minister’s quick resignation triggers more questions on CEZ deal

27 February 2018 | 14:29 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The sale of CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria is more than just an ordinary corporate deal, as the power distribution assets are directly related to national security, President Rumen Radev told reporters, quoted by FOCUS News Agency. He said that the quick resignation of energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova does not close the case but rather generates more questions. The president added that there seems to be a scheme for acquisition of the assets by a hidden buyer. “The question is who and why covering one’s intention. How is it that a company without history, experience, capacity and resources gets a huge bank guarantee. And why the names of the banks, the most transparent, public financial institutions, have been concealed. These are many questions. Also, does this company have a political guarantee,” the president asked, and urged the government to provide answers to all Bulgarians.
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Ginka Varbakova: I am the ultimate beneficial owner of the company that bought CEZ – the change of ownership will not change the service price for the end user

Ginka Varbakova: I am the ultimate beneficial owner of the company that bought CEZ – the change of ownership will not change the service price for the end user

26 February 2018 | 12:24 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. I am the ultimate beneficial owner of Inercom Bulgaria, said Ginka Varbakova, the owner of the company that bought electricity supplier CEZ. She told Nova TV that CEZ will be acquired through a bank loan from an international bank institution, which she cannot reveal at the moment. The financing will be secured by the company’s assets estimated to BGN 100 million.
“The entire transaction was under the Czech law. The negotiations took place in Prague and the Bulgarian government had no information about it. It was a private deal,” she said, adding that the change of the ownership of CEZ will not change the service or its price for the end user.

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Delyan Dobrev, GERB: I am concerned if the buyer of CEZ Bulgaria will have capacity to manage it

Delyan Dobrev, GERB: I am concerned if the buyer of CEZ Bulgaria will have capacity to manage it

23 February 2018 | 15:06 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. I am concerned if the buyer Inercom, if true and CEZ’s assets are transferred, will have the capacity to manage a business like this, MP Delyan Dobrev from Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB/GERB) told reporters about the sale of CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria, FOCUS News Agency reported. The MP cited media reports that the buyer has assets of BGN 90,000 and a loss of BGN 11,000 for last year. “Suddenly, this company buys for EUR 300 million CEZ’s business, with a turnover of BGN 2 billion and nearly half of the customers in Bulgaria, one-third of the network,” Dobrev commented. He expects the antitrust and energy regulators to make a detailed examination.
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PM says advised energy minister to resign, new minister to be chosen with coalition partners

PM says advised energy minister to resign, new minister to be chosen with coalition partners

23 February 2018 | 14:04 | FOCUS News Agency
Brussels. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said he advised Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova to announce her resignation, while a decision for the new minister will be taken together with the coalition partners, he told reporters in Brussels. “I want to confirm that we have not influenced the CEZ deal in any way. There is no way for us to control a transaction in the Czech Republic between private companies, nor to prevent it,” he stressed, quoted by FOCUS News Agency. “The institutions will do their job. For years we have struggled to have independent regulators, and neither the energy minister, nor me or anyone, could influence this deal,” the prime minister added.
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Energy minister will resign over doubts about CEZ deal, says prime minister will decide what to do

Energy minister will resign over doubts about CEZ deal, says prime minister will decide what to do

23 February 2018 | 13:24 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. I talked to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and I will submit my resignation, while he will take a decision what to do next, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told reporters in connection with the sale of power distributor CEZ Bulgaria, FOCUS News Agency reports. Asked if she was best woman to Ginka Varbakova, who runs the company that acquired CEZ, Temenuzhka Petkova said she had known those people for the last 20 years but was not their best woman. She noted that the deal is to be approved by the Bulgarian antitrust, financial and energy regulators. She added that the State Agency for National Security should thoroughly examine the buyer and its capacity with respect to national law and national security. “The procedure for CEZ was conducted by the Czech state. The Bulgarian state and government have no relation to this process. The procedure is conducted under Czech law and this excludes any hypotheses or suspicions about government intervention in the decision of the Czech state,” the minister stated, adding that CEZ had not asked the Bulgarian government about its opinion on the deal.
Petkova’s resignation will be considered by the government coalition council, officials from ruling party GERB said.
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Energy minister: Acquisition of CEZ Bulgaria by state not on the agenda

Energy minister: Acquisition of CEZ Bulgaria by state not on the agenda

22 February 2018 | 15:35 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Acquiring CEZ Bulgaria is not on the agenda, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said before the Parliament’s energy committee in response to a question about the progress in the sale of the power distributor, FOCUS News Agency reports. “If the issue had been raised, be sure that we would have informed the energy committee and the MPs,” the minister said. She told the MPs that the sale procedure is taking place under the Czech law. Many companies have participated in the procedure, many of them Bulgarian. The Bulgarian state is not indifferent to the outcome, Petkova said. “It is important for us to ensure the security of supply and the quality of the services,” she stated.
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Vasil Velev, BICA: Business downscales readiness to protest against high power prices

Vasil Velev, BICA: Business downscales readiness to protest against high power prices

21 February 2018 | 15:20 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The business organisations are downscaling their readiness to protest against high electricity prices by one notch from orange to yellow level, as they are satisfied with the progress in their talks with the government. This was stated by Vasil Velev, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), after a meeting in the government building, FOCUS News Agency reports. The organisations allege an abnormal price hike on the free energy market and want a series of measures for the new regulatory period from July 1. “We agree on most of the issues and we are moving at a good pace,” Velev said. He has already seen some positive indications on the market, with offers to small companies now in the range from BGN 83 to BGN 100 per MWh, compared to previous prices of BGN 90 and BGN 125 per MWh, he said. Velev urged for the termination of the contracts with two US-owned thermal power plants and the debut of more power sellers on the energy market, probably referring to power generators selling at preferential prices to state-owned power company NEK. The business organisations expect additional 4 TWh on the free market after the inclusion of new players. The generators will be compensated for the difference between market and preferential prices, the chairman of the parliamentary energy committee, Delyan Dobrev, has said.
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