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SOFIA (Bulgaria), October 9 (SeeNews) - Financial and insurance group Eurohold Bulgaria [BUL:4EH] is interested in the acquisition of the assets of Czech energy group CEZ in Romania, the chairman of Eurohold's supervisory board said on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Eurohold signed a 335 million euro ($368 million) deal to acquire the assets of CEZ in Bulgaria, which is still awaiting regulatory approval.
"The transaction in Bulgaria is at the most advanced stage but it is just one of many deals in the region that Eurohold is working on," Asen Hristov said in response to a SeeNews question during a news conference in Sofia.
Eurohold is looking at companies in the energy sector in countries neighbouring Bulgaria that are not necessarily EU members, Hristov added.
However, Eurohold will not be looking for vertical integration by acquiring energy producers but will rather focus on power distribution companies, aiming to benefit from the synergies created by the ongoing integration of the sector across the Balkans.
Expansion in the energy field has been approved by both the company's management and its shareholders and Eurohold intends to actively pursue it regardless of whether it will succeed in closing the transaction for the acquisition of CEZ's Bulgarian assets. However, it is highly unlikely that the deal will be rejected by the regulators as it meets all regulatory requirements, in Hristov's view.
Regarding the financing of the deal, Hristov said that Eurohold has secured funding from two international lending institutions, both based in London.
However, part of the funding, which was planned to come from a capital increase, might need to be covered by Eurohold's majority owner - local company Starcom, and another shareholder - Luxembourg-based investment firm KJK. The prospectus for the capital hike has not yet been approved by the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC), which means it may take an additional four months to complete the increase, Hristov noted.
Eurohold is planning to seek up to 154 million levs through the issuance of preferred shares, the group said earlier this year. It has received approval from its shareholders and submitted the prospectus for approval by the financial regulator in April. However, FSC asked Eurohold to make corrections to the prospectus on two occasions - in April and June. There have been no new announcements since.
CEZ's assets in Bulgaria comprise power utility CEZ Distribution Bulgaria [BUL:3CZ], power supplier CEZ Electro Bulgaria [BUL:1CZ], licensed electricity trader CEZ Trade Bulgaria, IT services company CEZ ICT Bulgaria, solar park Free Energy Project Oreshetz, biomass-fired power plant Bara Group and CEZ Bulgaria.
CEZ has been present in Romania since 2005, when it took over national distribution company Electrica Oltenia. It currently serves over 3.5 million customers locally through nine companies: Distributie Oltenia, CEZ Romania, CEZ Vanzare, CEZ Trade, CEZ ESCO Romania, Tomis Team, MW Invest, Ovidiu Development, and TMK Hydroenergy Power.
As at 12:45 CET on Wednesday, Eurohold Bulgaria's shares traded 8.14% higher at 1.86 levs on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.
($ = 0.9108 euro)