PRAGUE Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has criticized Areva over the French company's failed nuclear tender bid because state-owned CEZ now had no "strong" European option left for the tender.
His comments to daily Hospodarske Noviny were the first from the government after CEZ announced in October that it had disqualified Areva, saying the company failed to meet both legal and business criteria and leaving only Toshiba's U.S. unit Westinghouse and Russia's Atomstroyexport to contest the deal.
The Czech government, which owns a 70-percent stake in CEZ, is closely following bids for the European Union nation's largest ever public tender that could be worth more than $10 billion.
"Areva has fatally failed, much to our anger," Necas said. "They made such errors that it made it impossible for CEZ to proceed in a different way."
"We really wanted to have a strong European solution in the contest. Areva is not willing to admit to itself that it wrongly picked the team that worked on the bid," Necas told the paper.
Areva, which could not immediately be reached for comment, has called for a suspension of the bidding process after its appeal was rejected, saying it believed that its offer is compliant with statutory requirements and has been misunderstood in many respects.
The Czech nuclear energy push has ran into opposition in neighbors 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.
(Reporting by Jana Mlcochova; Editing by Michael Kahn and William Hardy)