April 17, 2019 / 8:12 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-CEZ to start exclusive talks to sell Bulgarian assets to Eurohold

(Adds Eurohold comment, details)

PRAGUE/SOFIA, April 17 (Reuters) - Czech utility CEZ is entering exclusive talks to potentially sell its assets in Bulgaria to local firm Eurohold, a CEZ spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

“We offered to Eurohold that we will start exclusive talks with them,” CEZ spokeswoman Alice Horakova said, adding another bidder, India Power, was second in line for talks. She declined to comment on any timeline.

Bulgaria’s Eurohold, active in insurance and asset management, confirmed the news, adding it was participating in the process on its own and planned to finance the deal with its own funds and loans from leading Western European banks.

Eurohold declined to comment on the value of the potential deal, which includes a power distributor that provides electricity to over 3 million Bulgarians, an energy trader and several renewable energy assets.

“The intention to acquire CEZ Group’s assets in Bulgaria is part of Eurohold’s long-term strategy to enter new regulated business segments with sustainable high growth potential,” it said in a statement.

In February last year, CEZ signed a contract to sell its assets in Bulgaria to local energy company Inercom, but the country’s anti-monopoly regulator blocked the deal five months later. The deal was then estimated at 320 million euros ($362 million).

Electricity costs are politically sensitive in the Balkan country of 7.1 million people, which is also one of the poorest European Union member states.

$1 = 0.8836 euros Reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague and Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia; Editing by Michael Kahn and Mark Potter

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