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The Czech power company CEZ announced on Monday that it plans to sell its troubled electricity distribution subsidiary in Albania, CEZ Shperndarje.
“The CEZ Group has initiated a process to sell its Albanian distribution business, CEZ Shpërndarje,” the company said in a statement.
“Potential buyers may thus express their interest during January, and a decision on the subsequent steps will be made afterwards,” it added.
In 2009, Albania sold 76 per cent of its shares in Operatori i Sistemit te Shperndarjes, OSSH, a company that manages the electricity distribution of up to 1 million consumers, with revenues of over 300 million euro per year.
CEZ bought the stake for 102 million euro and the World Bank helped smooth the sale with a $100 million partial risk guarantee in case the Czech company opted out.
But CEZ failed to cut losses and stem theft in the grid, forcing the government to subsidize costly imports for its state-owned power corporation, KESH. The company has been locked in a dispute with the Albanian government over unpaid electricity bills since the beginning of 2012.
CEZ claims that public institutions and companies owe more than €165 in unpaid electricity bills, while KESH says CEZ has accumulated a debt to the electricity producer of more than €208 million.
“[We] continue to negotiate with the Albanian authorities on ways to resolve the situation at hand,” CEZ said.
“After a series of other unforeseeable and even illegal actions taken by Albania and following numerous unsuccessful negotiations, the CEZ Group has taken steps to claim a guarantee made by the World Bank,” it concluded.
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