EP Holding to Buy Slovak Gas Stake From EON, GDF ‘Within Days’

Energeticky & Prumyslovy Holding AS, the second-largest Czech utility that’s co-owned by billionaire Petr Kellner, said it will buy a 49 percent stake in a Slovak utility from EON SE and GDF Suez SA “within days.”

EPH, which owns assets in the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland, is finalizing the purchase of the stake in Slovensky Plynarensky Priemysel AS, according to Daniel Castvaj, a company spokesman. He declined to disclose the price. GDF Suez spokesman Jerome Chambin declined to comment, as did Alexander Ihl, a spokesman for EON.

The sale required approval by the Slovak government, which owns the remaining 51 percent of SPP, the country’s dominant gas company. The government cleared the sale of Slovak Gas Holding BV, the joint venture that owns the 49 percent stake in SPP, last month after EPH agreed to Premier Robert Fico’s conditions regarding price regulation.

The sale of the SPP stake is part of efforts by EON and GDF Suez to cut operating costs and lower debt. GDF Suez wants to sell 11 billion euros ($14.4 billion) of assets this year and next to help lower net debt to 30 billion euros. EON has already sold more than 14 billion euros of assets out of its 15 billion-euro disposal program.

EPH, which is based in Prague, is also bidding for Czech pipeline operator Net4Gas, owned by RWE AG, to gain control over the transit of Russian gas from the east, Daniel Kretinsky, one of the company’s owners, said last month.

EPH reported net income of 8.48 billion koruna ($436 million) for the first nine months of 2012, Castvaj said by phone.

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