Austria's EVN ready to start talks with NEK in payment dispute

SOFIA, April 23 Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:22pm EDT

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SOFIA, April 23 (Reuters) - Austria's EVN said on Wednesday it was ready to begin talks with Bulgaria's public power provider NEK to try and reach an agreement in a payment dispute that has put CEZ's operating licences under threat.

"Today, EVN Bulgaria submitted a proposal to NEK on how to settle the existing trade dispute between the two companies," the EVN, which owes 216 million levs ($152.72 million) according to Bulgaria's energy regulator, said in a statement.

NEK was not immediately available for comment.

EVN asked the regulator to postpone once again its decision on whether to revoke the licences of three foreign-owned power distributors which are locked in a payments dispute with NEK to get acquainted with the new evidence, which was presented on April 7.

The regulator postponed the decision until April 28.

Last month, EVN, Czech firm CEZ and Energo-Pro were given an ultimatum to pay some 318 million levs owed to NEK or risk losing their licences.

NEK already said it was ready to begin talks with CEZ to try and reach an agreement to arrange the payment of about 38 million levs in due funds.

($1 = 1.4144 Bulgarian Levs) (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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