* CEZ says Areva fails to meet requirements
* Disqualification leaves U.S., Russian firms in tender
(Adds quotes, shares, details)
By Jason Hovet and Jan Korselt
PRAGUE, Oct 5 Czech power group CEZ
threw out Areva's bid for a multibillion-dollar
contract to expand the Temelin nuclear power plant, leaving U.S.
and Russian firms to contest the country's biggest-ever energy
CEZ, central Europe's largest company with a market value of
$20 billion, said Areva failed to meet "crucial requirements" in
the tender to double the size of the 2,000 megawatt plant with
two new units.
Media have said the deal would be worth $10 billion or more,
although majority state-owned CEZ has never put a price on it.
Areva's disqualification now leaves Toshiba's U.S.
unit Westinghouse and Russia's Atomstroyexport as the only
bidders, pending an appeal by the French company.
The Czech nuclear energy push has ran into opposition in
neighbours Austria and Germany, but is the cornerstone of a
government drive to secure its energy future.
Russia is already a major oil, gas and nuclear fuel supplier
for the ex-Soviet nation of 10.5 million, giving CEZ a stark
choice between east and west in the tender. A winner should be
picked by the end of next year.
"CEZ has today informed Areva that their bid failed to meet
statutory requirements for building two new units of the Temelin
nuclear power plant," CEZ said in a statement.
CEZ said that the criteria were both commercial and
legislative, but it would not give details until after the
appeal process has finished. Spokesman Ladislav Kriz said later
that the disqualification was for "fundamental shortcomings".
Areva plans to appeal the decision. "Areva firmly believes
we have met all the tender criteria," a spokeswoman said.
Areva shares rose 2.4 percent on the day, outperforming the
Paris bourse, while CEZ shares were up 0.8 percent.
This is the latest blow for Areva, the world's largest
reactor builder, which had bet on the Czech Republic to revive
its international nuclear reactor business.
Areva this week dropped out of the race to buy British
nuclear new-build project Horizon.
The Czech Republic has been a member of the European Union
since 2004. A few years ago it tentatively agreed to house part
of a U.S. missile defence system, a move that irked Russia.
Fears over Russia's influence are strong in the central
But some in the industry say the tender choice is different
to oil and gas in that a nuclear power supplier can be changed
Temelin, the biggest energy source in a country where
nuclear power meets a third of annual electricity needs,
consists of two Russian-type units that were refurbished with
Westinghouse technology before first going into operation in
2000 and 2003.
The units are run with Russian fuel after switching from
(Additional Reporting by Michael Kahn, Jana Mlcochova and
Michel Rose in Paris; Writing by Michael Kahn and Jason Hovet;
Editing by David Goodman and David Cowell)