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ČEZ's decision to halt Tušimice plant upgrade makes good sense

22.2.1999 10:34
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(Ondřej Daťka) ČEZ's board decided last week to halt the CZK 5 bil. upgrade of its Tušimice 1 power plant and recommended selling it in a tender. The decision, in our view a good one, is the first result of the new board's effort to find savings in operating costs and capital expenditure. Although the company has already spent some money on the upgrade (not officially disclosed, but reported at CZK 1.8 bil.), we find it reasonable that ČEZ has chosen not to spend further money on a power plant whose post-upgrade efficiency (31%) would be still well below that of a new plant. Tušimice 1, a 330 MW brown-coal-powered plant build in early 1960s, is one of ČEZ's oldest plants and failed to meet the stricter emission criteria effective on January 1, 1999. Given that Czech power consumption and consequently ČEZ's output are now significantly lower than was expected just a few years ago, ČEZ will do well without Tušimice 1, especially considering that its Temelín nuclear plant is to start supplying power to the grid in winter 2001. Moreover, a sale of Tušimice 1 would raise a few CZK billion in cash for ČEZ. We expect that foreign utilities could be interested in the plant, given that it is attractively located next to the Czech-German border and given that their pockets are deep enough to complete the upgrade. As for ČEZ, we keep our short-term hold, long-term accumulate rating. The short-term rating reflects our fear that the Czech government could decide to use ČEZ for the purchase of small stakes in the eight regional power distributing companies, thus raising the state's stakes above 50%.

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