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UPDATE 1-CEZ to sell power plant in effort to end EU probe
* Settlement includes selling plants with 800-1,000 MW capacity
* Could lead to sale of plants to lignite supplier Czech Coal
* EPH group another interested party (Adds quotes, details)
PRAGUE, June 26 (Reuters) - Czech electricity producer CEZ is to sell one or two coal-burning power plants in an attempt to end an investigation into suspected anti-competitive behaviour by the European Commission, the company said on Tuesday.
CEZ, the biggest listed group in central Europe with a market capitalisation of $19 billion, would face large fines if found guilty of blocking rivals from the domestic wholesale market.
EU regulators started the probe with a raid at CEZ's offices in 2009. CEZ has denied any wrongdoing.
On Tuesday the Commission said CEZ's sale proposal appeared to address its concerns, but it would test it with rivals and customers before making a final decision on whether to drop the investigation.
"The settlement terms are satisfactory for both parties," CEZ said, adding it would sell plants with capacity of 800-1,000 megawatts.
The settlement may include CEZ's 1,000-megawatt Pocerady station or its 800-megawatt Chvaletice plant, which it has already earmarked for a possible sale.
The potential buyer is the supplier of lignite to both these plants, miner Czech Coal owned by businessman Pavel Tykac.
Czech Coal has long been in a battle with CEZ over future coal prices, the key factor for splitting the profits from electricity production at the plants.
The plants are dependent on Czech Coal supplies, but at the same time Czech Coal would have a tough time finding alternative customers for the lignite, which cannot be shipped over long distances mainly due to cost.
Rifts with Czech Coal, which also included an alleged transmission capacity hoarding by CEZ to prevent the construction of a competing plant, have been part of the EU investigation.
Pocerady is one of the best performing plants, built near a Czech Coal mine and thus cutting coal shipping costs.
Tykac said in a newspaper interview last week the price for the two plants may be near 20 billion crowns ($965.72 million) including carbon emission permits.
Another potential bidder is EPH, an energy investment group that has swapped assets with CEZ in recent years. It is controlled by investor Petr Kellner, the richest Czech, and Czech-Slovak investment group J&T.
CEZ said it may alternatively sell its hard coal-burning Detmarovice plant in eastern Czech Republic, or its Tisova plant together with its Melnik 3 station.
CEZ shares stood 1.6 percent higher at 0931 GMT, beating the Prague PX index which gained 0.4 percent, but moved little after the news. ($1 = 20.7099 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Erica Billingham)
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