Slovakia may nationalise electricity giant to prevent Orban from taking control

SSE belongs to the critical infrastructure. Because of this, every purchase of its share needs to be approved by the government. The state also has a right of first refusal. [Shutterstock / Robson90]

Hungary’s biggest state-owned electricity provider, MVM, is currently offering €1.2 billion for a minority share in Slovakia’s second-largest electricity distributor, Stredoslovenská energetika a.s (SSE). Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS/ECR) is being pressured by coalition partners, opposition politicians and employer’s associations to use this opportunity to take full control of SSE.

The Hungarian offer – which is supposedly much more than what the other interested buyers, German E.ON and Czech ČEZ, are offering – could allow Orban to gain power over electricity prices in parts of Slovakia where SSE is the biggest supplier.

Currently, the minority share belongs to Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH), owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský and Slovak Peter Tkáč. However, Křetínský and Tkáč decided to sell their interests. Supposedly, Křetínský wants money to finance his investment in West Ham United, an English football club.

SSE is part of Slovakia’s critical infrastructure, and every purchase of shares needs to be approved by the government. The state also has a right of first refusal.

Sulík is known for his opinion that the state is not a good owner. His party Freedom and Solidarity had intended to privatise Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP), the biggest energy distributor in the country.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)

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