Albania regulator has decided today to revoke the business license of CEZ Shpërndarje. According to ČEZ, these steps are in violation of the local legislation, and the corporation is going to lodge a formal protest against the decision. At the same time, ČEZ is going to take first steps to initiate an international arbitration.
Together with its decision to revoke the business license, the Albanian regulator also appointed an administrator who should under the regulator’s supervision take over the company’s management, including all decision-making competencies and responsibility for the company’s operations; the administrator will thus assume the rights and power of CEZ Shpërndarje’s statutory bodies. The existing owner, the ČEZ Group, thus loses all shareholder rights and has therefore no chance how to defend against this de facto expropriation. ČEZ in principle opposes this conduct, with decisions on the company’s management and operations to be done solely by the regulating authority, and considers it incompatible with any European standards but also with any Albanian laws. Therefore, the company is going to take legal action immediately and notify the Albanian Government of its intention to initiate an international arbitration.
The situation in Albania got more complicated early last year when, due to the drastic drought of last year, the Albanian state-owned company of KESH had to import power from abroad for much higher prices, which brought it on the verge of bankruptcy; the company would not have survived without receiving help from the Albanian Government. The local Government tried to resolve the situation early this year with a decision unprecedented in Europe: All costs were placed on the shoulders of the foreign investor, ČEZ Shperndarje. Therefore, as of January 1, 2012, the local regulator ordered that the price charged to the foreign investor for power taken from KESH should be 91% higher. Following intensive negotiations, this negative impact could be partially alleviated by the regulator’s new decision to reduce the price of input power supplied by the KESH state-owned power plants from 2,830 to 2,200 ALL/MWh, which lowered the year-on-year price growth from 91% to 49%. Furthermore, a study was approved that determined the initial value of bad debt. However, the Albanian tax authority’s order imposing a penalty of ALL 4 billion (approx. EUR 28 million) for outstanding taxes and penalties and another ALL 430 million (approx EUR 3 million) for failing to meet the agreed electricity import levels has brought yet another turn in the matter. In early October, the ČEZ Group changed the staffing of the Supervisory Board and the Board of Directors of ČEZ Shperndarje, replacing the original personnel with independent experts in order to calm down the heightened style of negotiations.