* Long-running dispute over power imports, investment
* Albania revoked CEZ licence in January
* Dispute draws in Czech PM
(Adds details, CEZ spokeswoman)
PRAGUE, Feb 7 Czech power group CEZ
has started international arbitration over its long-running
dispute with Albania, where regulators stripped the utility of
its licence last month.
Albania's power regulator revoked the distribution licence
of CEZ's local unit, CEZ Shperndarje, on Jan. 21, holding
central Europe's biggest utility liable for damages for
importing insufficient electricity and not investing in the
country's power grid.
The Balkan country's government has estimated the cost of
CEZ Shperndarje's alleged failings at $1 billion.
"Today, CEZ has officially informed the Albanian Government
about its intention to initiate international arbitration," CEZ
said on Thursday.
CEZ, which is majority owned by the Czech state, did not say
where the arbitration would take place, nor how much in damages
it would seek, but has estimated it could record a
200-million-euro ($271 million) loss on its Albanian investment.
CEZ plans to detail what it stands to lose when it reports
its 2012 financial results on Feb. 28, a spokeswoman said.
The company trimmed its 2012 net profit outlook to 40
billion crowns ($2.1 billion) from 41 billion in November due to
its loss-making Albanian division.
CEZ's original investment was 102 million euros in 2009 for
a 76 percent share in CEZ Shperndarje. Albania holds the rest.
CEZ said the Albanian acquisition accounted only for 3.6
percent of its foreign investments and 0.7 of total investments.
The dispute has drawn in Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas,
who last month said the move to revoke CEZ's licence was a "very
negative" signal for relations and raised questions about the
Balkan country's commitment to EU entry.
($1 = 18.7309 Czech crowns)
($1 = 0.7387 euros)
(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Michael Kahn and Mark