ECONOMY

Czech CEZ sees Turkey growth

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Czech power firm CEZ will continue its march to expand in Central and Eastern Europe and is setting its sights on Turkey, the firm’s mergers and acquisitions chief said. Vladimir Schmalz told Reuters the majority state-owned company and Europe’s second-largest power exporter was eyeing a number of potential acquisition and growth opportunities in Southeastern Europe, Poland, Russia and Ukraine. «CEZ has sufficient resources to further participate in the coming years in the consolidation of energy assets in Central and Eastern Europe,» Schmalz told Reuters in an interview. CEZ, the biggest Czech company, with market capitalization of $28 billion, has acquired power plants and distribution networks in Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, and Schmalz said he expected more deals next year. «I am strongly convinced that next year we will succeed in either one of the privatization processes or one of the privately negotiated transactions,» Schmalz said. He said CEZ was looking for a local partner in Turkey, where it may enter bidding to build two 1,200-megawatt coal-power units in Asfin-Elbistan. The cost is expected at $4-5 billion, and the winner would get the rights to operate the plants for 30 years, according to Turkish officials. «Construction of new sources in Turkey certainly interests us, and so far everything is heading toward us expressing interest,» he said. «We would certainly be interested in cooperating with some local Turkish partner who knows local conditions… Now we are at the stage of selecting the local partner, because we do not feel like going there alone,» he said. The deadline for declaring interest in the Turkish project is January 23, he said. Schmalz said that given the limited number of possible acquisitions, building new capacity was the way to expand in Southeastern Europe.