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CEZ Says It’s Open to Talks With Albania on Dropping Arbitration

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Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) -- CEZ AS, the Czech power utility, said it’s open to talks with Albania about possibly dropping an international arbitration suit it filed after the Balkan state revoked its license and seized its assets there this year.

CEZ is willing to consider avoiding arbitration if the two sides agree on fair compensation, spokeswoman Barbora Pulpanova said today in an e-mailed message. Earlier, Reuters cited Albania’s energy minister as saying the country plans to ask CEZ to drop the suit. The Prague-based company hasn’t received an official note from Albania’s government, Pulpanova said.

Albanian authorities revoked CEZ’s license, seized its assets and forced the company out of the country in January, following almost a year of disputes over tariffs, taxes, and unpaid electricity bills from local utilities.

CEZ is seeking compensation for damage to its investment in power distributor CEZ Shperndarje, which it purchased in 2009 for 102 million euros ($139 million). It has invested 100 million euros in repairs and expansion and says the Albanian regulator ordered it to pay state-owned power producers higher tariffs without allowing the Czech utility to raise prices for customers.

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

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