Czech PM says CEZ could expand in nuclear via subsidiary - paper

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis arrives for the second day of a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. Tatyana Zenkovich/Pool via REUTERS

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said state-controlled utility CEZ could expand its nuclear capacity via a subsidiary, and reiterated his opposition to splitting the company.

Babis’s government postponed a decision on building new nuclear units in May, saying it needed more time to evaluate the impact on its budget and find out European Union views on state aid for such a project.

CEZ operates two nuclear power plants in the EU member country, in Dukovany and Temelin.

“It is a simple operation. I would take Dukovany, appraise it, put it into a 100-percent subsidiary, run a tender for a supplier, financing and possibly even a joint-venture,” Babis said in an interview published on Saturday by the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily paper.

“Let CEZ guarantee that, so that is has good conditions. And to make it even better and more serious, the state can be the second one guaranteeing,” Babis said.

Besides splitting CEZ, which Babis has opposed, and a subsidiary building the new blocs, his government has been working on one more option - that the government could buy a small CEZ unit to build the plants.

CEZ chief executive Daniel Benes has said that a state-owned part of CEZ would be best placed to build the new nuclear blocs.

The nuclear project and other matters have been on the back-burner since October, as Czechs did not have a full-fledged government until Thursday when Babis’s second minority government, leaning on far-left Communists, finally got the backing of parliament.

CEZ has refused to invest into new plants without some form of state support.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Mark Potter