Slovak Premier Plans to Ask Enel CEO to Refrain From Asset Sale

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he will ask Enel SpA Chief Executive Officer Francesco Starace to refrain from the planned sale of Slovenske Elektrarne AS when the two officials meet Wednesday.

Italy’s largest utility should “refrain from any disposal of assets” given its dispute with Slovakia over Gabcikovo hydroelectric plant, Fico told reporters in Bratislava, the country’s capital, on Tuesday. Enel is planning to sell its 66 percent stake in Elektrarne and expects binding bids by May 9.

The government is asking Enel for 492 million euros ($538 million) in withheld income from running the state-owned Gabcikovo hydroelectric plant after a court found the management contract invalid, the premier said. The Slovaks also want Enel to finish the expansion of the Mochovce nuclear power plant before putting the up assets for sale.

“I’m not ruling out asking a court for a preliminary ruling to forbid Enel to dispose of Slovenske Elektrarne assets,” Fico said.

The Rome-based company put its stake in Elektrarne up for sale last year as part of a global strategy to reduce debt. Czech companies CEZ AS and EP Holding, as well as a Hungarian group made up of MOL Nyrt’s Slovnaft and state-owned MVM, have expressed preliminary interest.

Fico threatened to obstruct the sale of Elektrarne if his conditions aren’t met. The government may use some proceeds from a share sale of Slovak Telekom AS to boost its minority stake in the utility, he said.

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