Bulgaria Sells Most of Minority Stake in CEZ Distribution Unit

Bulgaria sold three-quarters of its 33 percent stake in the local distribution unit of CEZ AS, the largest Czech power producer, in the first day of an auction on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.

The state sold 48,074 shares in the power distribution unit, CEZ Razpredelenie Bulgaria, at an average price of 1,605.85 lev ($1,060) a share, the Sofia-based bourse said in an e-mail today, bringing the sale value to 77.2 million lev.

Bulgaria also sold about 34 percent of the stake, or 560 shares, in grid operating unit CEZ Electro Bulgaria at an average price of 9485.37 lev a share, the bourse said, bringing the sale’s value to 5.3 million lev. The manager is Sofia-based Central Cooperative Bank AD and 31 brokers bought shares.

The government sold its minority stakes in most of the seven power distributors, after selling majority stakes in 2005 to Germany’s E.ON AG, CEZ AS and EVN AG in the run-up to joining the European Union.

The government expects to raise at least 100 million lev from the CEZ units’ sale, Privatization Agency Executive Director Emil Karanikolov said in an interview on Oct. 3.

Bulgaria sold the minority stakes in the two units controlled by EVN for about 93 million lev nine months ago and got about 70 million lev from selling minority stakes in the two companies run by Czech utility Energo-Pro three weeks ago.

E.ON sold its Bulgarian companies to Energo-Pro last year.

Bulgaria, which weathered the global crisis without borrowing from international lenders, is working to cut the budget gap to 1.3 percent of gross domestic product this year, after 2.1 percent in 2011, to help contain the impact from the euro-area crisis.

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