Bulgaria Won’t Decide on CEZ License Before June, Regulator Says

CEZ AS (CEZ)’s future in Bulgaria won’t be decided before the middle of June as the Balkan country’s regulator prepares to open discussions next week.

The Bulgarian regulator will start to discuss the Czech utility’s license removal on April 16, spokeswoman Ralitsa Stoyanova said when reached by telephone today.

CEZ, along with EVN AG (EVN) and Czech utility Energy-Pro, is being investigated by the country’s public prosecutor for allegedly breaching outsourcing contracts. CEZ is suspected of 21 violations including evasion of public procurement laws. CEZ spokeswoman Barbora Pulpanova said the company denies any wrongdoing.

High utility bills at the beginning of the year triggered violent public protests that helped topple the government of Boyko Borissov and set off the investigation. President Rosen Plevneliev appointed an interim government led by Premier Marin Raikov last month to prepare for early elections on May 12.

CEZ filed a complaint against Bulgaria at the European Commission on March 29, claiming that the regulator was breaking both national and EU laws. The utility has asked the commission for an independent review.

Bulgaria is the second Balkan country in which CEZ is in danger of losing its license after Albania seized its assets in January. Bulgarian operations account for about 1.5 percent of the Czech utility’s operating income.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladka Bauerova in Prague at lbauerova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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