October 12, 2018 / 2:32 PM / in 3 days

UPDATE 1-CEZ shareholder group calls for general meeting to cancel stock option plan

(Adds further shareholder comment, shares)

PRAGUE, Oct 12 (Reuters) - A shareholder group in Czech utility CEZ has called for a general meeting to vote on overhauling management’s stock option plan and wants more minority shareholder representation on the supervisory board.

The group, led by Czech investor Michal Snobr, also called for the company to focus more on its home Czech and Slovak markets.

“We will be appealing to current management and in front of the controlling shareholder... to adjust or change the strategy of the company to reflect current trends in (the) energy sector in Europe,” Pavel Muchna, of J&T financial group, one of the shareholders in the group, said in an email to Reuters, which has seen a copy of the group’s letter to CEZ.

“Starting in 2019, as a consequence of rapid increase of prices of electricity, the company will enjoy much better free cash flow. We are afraid, and based on experiences from the past, free cash flow might be squandered and inefficiently used,” Muchna said.

On the stock option plan, Muchna said the group wanted a model linked to performance as the current plan “does not motivate... and gives the management free bonuses regardless of their performance.”

The group also opposes the potential sale of CEZ’s Pocerady power plant, for which CEZ has a put option coming due in 2019 to sell it to the Czech Coal group, according to the Oct. 11 letter from the shareholder group addressed to CEZ.

CEZ said it had received the request and its legal team was going through it.

Snobr has long been a critical shareholder in CEZ and his group earlier this year unsuccessfully pushed for a higher dividend payout.

Muchna said the group felt it had support among other minority shareholders in its aims.

CEZ shares traded down 0.6 percent at 556 crowns at 1345 GMT, while Prague’s main index was flat. CEZ shares have gained 23 percent in the past year. (Reporting by Jason Hovet; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)

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