FYROM may upset EVN

SKOPJE/VIENNA – The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) said on Tuesday it might call a new tender for a power plant, rattling the plans of Austrian utility EVN, which had earmarked 752 million euros to overhaul the plant. EVN said it had been told by the FYROM government that it won a tender in June for the Negotino thermal power plant, which had been put up for sale by the previous, Social Democrat government in Skopje. However, FYROM never officially confirmed who won the tender, and the Social Democrats lost power to conservatives in elections in July. A senior FYROM official under the Balkan country’s new government said no decision had been made on whether to actually annul the first tender and call another, adding that a commission would be formed in the next few weeks to examine the issue. ‘Economic logic’ «Economic logic dictates that we call another tender,» the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. In the original tender, bids were made as a package consisting of the outright purchase price plus a pledge on future investment, the official said. But the government now sought the highest possible purchase price and cared little for the investment side, the official said, as they would not retain a stake in the plant. EVN said yesterday it hoped the deal would go ahead. «EVN was the winning bidder of this tender,» said EVN spokesman Stefan Zach. «We wanted to invest 752 million euros in the next five years.» The Austrian utility had offered to pay 4 million euros for the oil-fueled power plant, which it planned to convert into a 750-megawatt coal-power plant. It also planned to add an 8-MW water-powered plant to the site. «We think that a responsible FYROM government would not annul the tender,» EVN said in a statement. In a separate deal, EVN won a tender for the privatization of FYROM power distributor ESM in March, paying 225 million euros for a 90 percent share and pledging another 96 million euros in investment over the next three years. Power generation, transmission and distribution in FYROM are controlled by three separate companies which emerged from the split of state-run monopoly ESM at the start of 2005. The sale of the company in the period leading up to the election had sparked public discontent, and opposition parties had pledged they would review the sales once they came to power.