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CEZ: Modified bids for the 66% stake in Slovenske elektrarne due today

3.9.2004 9:59
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Modified bids for the 66% stake in SE, the dominant Slovak power producer, are to be submitted today. Given the demands of the Cabinet and previous bids, CEZ has a realistic chance of winning the tender with its SK 31 bn bid. We believe the value of the 66% equity stake can be estimated to lie within the range of SK 0-10bn for an investor expecting zero synergies from the acquisition (interestingly enough, the former CEZ CFO D. Svojitka indicated at an earlier stage of the privatization process that CEZ sees the value of the minority stake "closer to the red than to the black"). Since the Czech and Slovak power system was constructed as a single unit before the split up of the former Czechoslovakia, it can be expected that synergies would materialize should CEZ acquire SE. Moreover, CEZ has a good track record with regard to its own restructuring and positioning on the liberalized energy markets. Still, to justify the level of the bid from the perspective of our valuation, the synergies should amount to SK 2.8bn per annum in terms of additional FCF, certainly a challenge given for instance SE’s 2003 EBIT of SK 3.4 bn (with CapEx/depreciation reaching only 40%). Among the main uncertainties/risks related to SE, we point to (i) the 3rd and 4th NPP Mochovce blocks completion (the obligation of the investor to complete these), its treatment in the balance sheet (currently at SK 19.5bn), (ii) possibly insufficient funds and accounting reserves to cover up the total cost of the decommissioning of nuclear assets and nuclear fuel storage, (iii) the condition of the overall production capacity, (iv) excessive leverage, representing a risk itself - moreover, this is reflected in the halting of development projects in SE, capex being limited to major maintenance outlays - and (v) SE has no stake in Slovak distribution. While we would currently assess the bid as too aggressive, the market seems to put more weight on some general strategic implications of the possible acquisition. We therefore do not expect a negative reaction of the stock price should CEZ win the tender - rather the opposite.

Tomáš Gatěk

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