15 April, 2002 – Slovakia’s latest power privatization attracted interest from seven European energy companies when details of the bidders for the three strategically located distribution companies it was revealed Friday.

The Slovak government received ten bids for separate 49 per cent stakes and management control in its three energy distributors, the privatization ministry said. The winners of the auction are expected to be announced by the end of the month with completion due by the end of June.

“The bids will be opened by the steering committees today, and the process of choosing the winners will start afterward… The committees should continue meeting next week,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Bidders have been offered management control and an option to increase their stakes later, pending changes to the current law that requires 51 per cent state ownership.

German RWE Plus, E.ON, EnBW Energie and Austrian EVN, bid for the largest of the three distributors, western Slovakia’s Zapadoslovenske Energeticke Zavody (ZSE), the ministry said.

French Electricit√© de France and Italian E-NOI bid for central Slovakia’s Stredoslovenske Energeticke Zavody (SSE), while Czech CEZ, EdF, RWE Plus and E-NOI bid for eastern Slovak Vychodoslovenske Energeticke Zavody (VSE).

The Slovakian government would prefer to see three different companies taking positions in its power distributors. ZSE is seen as the most valuable as it distributes the most power, covers Bratislava, the capital. According to the latest available data, it distributes around 6600 GWh of electricity to almost one million people annually.

SSE supplies a total of 6500 GWh of power to 686 000 customers but its clients include many insolvent companies and ones now eligible to choose their own supplier. VSE manages Ukrainian regional distributors and supplies 4 600 GWh to 600 867 clients in Slovakia.

The three also have connections to grids in neighbouring Hungary, Austria, Poland, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, making them attractive as future cross-border transit firms in light of the EU’s plans to expand eastward in 2004.

Slovakia’s dominant power generation company, Slovenske Elektrarne, remains owned by the state.