* TDE seized in May
* Red Electrica informs World Bank of dialogue under way
* Bolivia says move premature
MADRID, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Spanish power grid operator Red Electrica said on Tuesday it had begun to seek World Bank arbitration over Bolivia’s expropriation of its transmission business TDE.
Bolivia decided to nationalise Red Electrica’s power transmission unit TDE in May and said this move stemmed from the company’s failure to invest enough the country’s electricity networks.
A Red Electrica official told Reuters: “We have informed the ICSID (the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) of the process of dialogue that is under way.”
Under the arbitration rules, companies must allow some time for negotiation before the World Bank will consider the case.
Bolivia’s government said it regretted Red Electrica’s action, saying the Spanish company had not allowed enough time for talks before turning to the World Bank.
“We were on our way to finding really fair solutions for both parties,” Bolivia’s Communications Minister Amanda Davila said.
Bolivia’s government, under President Evo Morales, has nationalised oil, telecommunications, mining and electrical generation companies and most recently took over two companies owned by Spanish utility Iberdrola.
Argentina moved last year to take control of oil company YPF from majority shareholder Repsol.
Reporting By Andres Gonzalez. Editing by Jane Merriman