Bulgaria to restrict sales of power plants

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s anti-monopoly watchdog said yesterday that major Russian power company Unified Energy System (UES) may only buy one of the two power generators for which it successfully bid in a tender in April. The ruling comes as a blow to the outgoing government of ex-king Simeon Saxe-Coburg, following the cancellation of the sale of a third thermal power generator to Greek utility Public Power Corporation (PPC) for 105.3 million euros last month. Bulgaria’s privatization agency granted UES the right to buy the country’s Varna and Rousse thermal power plants for 578.8 million euros and 178.2 million in cash and a required capital hike through 2007, respectively. But the Commission for Protection of Competition ruled that UES would gain a dominant position in both the heating and electricity markets if both deals were to go through. «The Commission for Protection of Competition considers that the buyer should choose which of the two deals to be finalized, because only thus could the restriction of competition be avoided,» the commission said in a statement. The anti-monopoly body’s ruling can be appealed within 14 days.

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