(Adds details, background, shares)
PRAGUE, June 24 Czech utility CEZ will
receive 100 million euros ($136 million) in a settlement that
ends a dispute with Albania over a power distributor, the
company said on Tuesday.
Albania was keen to resolve the 18-month row so it could go
ahead with a $200 million investment in its electricity sector,
with the World Bank and other donors ready to back that with
funding once the dispute was sorted.
Earlier this month, the CTK news agency also reported,
citing EU sources, that the Czech Republic was prepared to block
granting of EU candidate status to Albania because of the
The Balkan country stripped CEZ's local unit of its licence
and put it under the control of an administrator in January
2013. The move followed a row over imports and prices and
prompted CEZ to take Albania to court.
Under the agreement, which will end arbitration proceedings,
CEZ will receive 95.5 million euros as payment of receivables
and transfer of shares in Albanian distributor CEZ Shperndarje,
in addition to 4.5 million euros already received.
The payments will come in annual installments until 2018,
CEZ said in a statement.
The settlement amount is similar to CEZ's investment when
entering the market in 2009 with the purchase of a 76 percent
stake in CEZ Shperndarje.
"I consider the negotiated agreement as a success because we
will receive funds significantly earlier and we will not need to
wait several years for the results of arbitration proceedings,"
CEZ Chief Executive Daniel Benes said.
In a joint statement with Albania, CEZ said the agreement
contained "no acknowledgment of any wrongdoing by any party".
The terms of the settlement will be disclosed once final
approval is given by national authorities, the statement said.
An Albanian government source said earlier this month that
the donor money would be used to overhaul the grid, and not to
pay CEZ any potential damages.
One of Europe's poorest countries, Albania does not want to
pay steep damages that would hit its energy sector, state
finances and to damage its image with foreign investors.
CEZ shares were little changed after the news, trading flat
on the day.
($1 = 0.7357 Euros)
(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark