PPC appeals cancellation of Bulgarian plant sale

SOFIA (Reuters) – Greece’s Public Power Corporation (PPC) has appealed against Bulgaria’s decision to cancel the sale of a thermal power plant for which PPC tendered the highest bid in April, a court said yesterday. The Balkan state’s sell-off agency canceled the tender last month due to lower-than-expected offers, in the first of several blows to the country’s efforts to sell off three plants that make up 20 percent of Bulgaria’s generation capacity. PPC bid 105.3 million euros ($127.3 million) in cash and investment for the 630 megawatt coal-fired plant at Bobov Dol in western Bulgaria. Italy’s Enel, the only other bidder, offered only 149,300 euros in cash and investment. «According to (PPC), the decision breached the privatization law,» the Supreme Administrative Court said in a statement. PPC said the cancellation breached an article in the law calling for privatizations to be executed in a fast, transparent, and economically expedient fashion, the court said. Miners, fearing massive layoffs because PPC was not obliged to buy local coal, had protested against the sale, causing political turmoil for the outgoing centrist government of Simeon Saxe-Coburg ahead of June 25 elections. The privatization agency agreed to cancel the deal in May but only announced its decision last month after the ballot. The head of the body, Atanas Bangachev, was sacked a day after he made the decision public. The prosecutors’ office has since banned the government, which resigned following the election, from either finalizing or reopening the tender. Parallel deals for two other plants have also hit snags. On Wednesday anti-monopoly authorities ruled Russia’s Unified Energy Systems can buy either a plant in Varna or one in Rousse, despite its having been told it can have both for bids worth a combined 757 million euros in cash and investment. The decision can be appealed.

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