28 May 2002 – The outgoing Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said on Monday that improved unofficial bids for the state power utility CEZ had been received which exceed the 200bn crowns ($6bn) minimum set by the government.

Zeman said that any decision concerning the sale of a majority stake in dominant power CEZ would still be the responsibility of the next administration to be formed following elections June 14-15.

Earlier this year the Czech government cancelled the auction for a 68 per cent interest in CEZ as well as interests in six regional power distributors, having failed to receive any bid which both satisfied the auction criteria and met the minimum offer price.

“I can say there are unofficial bids which exceed this (minimum) price,” Zeman told a news conference.

He said one offer quoted a price as high as 260bn crowns but gave no details on the bidders or the structure of the offers.

The favourite to win the aborted auction was Electricité de France with Italy’s Enel also showing interest.

Since the cancellation, plans have been put forward for CEZ to undergo a restructuring. As part of the proposed restructuring the state will buy a 66 per cent stake in the national grid transmission system from CEZ in exchange for holdings in the regional power distribution companies. The stakes will be independently valued and are estimated to be worth 10-15bn crowns