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Slovakia Wants More Powers in Gas Company to Allow Stake Sale

Slovakia will allow E.ON Ruhrgas AG and GDF Suez to sell their stake in the country’s biggest gas company if the government gains more power over the company’s management, premier Robert Fico said.

The German and French utilities are in talks with Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding AS, a Czech private-equity group, about the sale of their 49 percent stake in Slovensky Plynarensky Priemysel AS. The Slovak government has a right to veto the transfer or be the first buyer of the stake, which it sold in 2002 to the two companies for $2.7 billion together with management rights, Fico said today.

“Should the state agree with the transfer, the position of the state will significantly strengthen,” Fico said at a press conference in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The Cabinet also asked the Economy Ministry to analyze an option involving the state buying the stake back and regaining full control over Slovensky, which makes most of its profit from operating a section of a pipeline transferring OAO Gazprom’s gas to western Europe.

The utility last year posted after-tax profit of 564 million euros ($733 million), little changed from 2010. Slovensky said the result was affected by a 50 million-euro loss on sales to domestic clients because of government-imposed price caps.

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