CEZ eyes Kazakhstan, Vietnam for acquisitions - interview

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Czech power group CEZ will look for acquisitions in Kazakhstan and Vietnam due to a lack of opportunities in its traditional markets in central and eastern Europe, its mergers and acquisitions director said.

Vladimir Schmalz told Reuters, CEZ was looking at Kazakhstan due to the size of its market and proximity to Russia, which CEZ sees as one of the main acquisition target markets, but no other countries in the region were on the agenda. “The fact is that there are not many opportunities in central and southeastern Europe nowadays,” Schmalz said in a telephone interview. “So we will probably start looking for some opportunities in Kazakhstan, where we also see a big market and large potential.”

CEZ, the biggest listed company in central Europe with a market value of $37.8 billion, has been on an acquisition drive as rising electricity prices helped fill its coffers. But it has failed to find enough targets in its core central European region and has opted to improve its capital structure with share buybacks. Any investments in the former Soviet country were still well away, as well as any possible targets in Vietnam, where CEZ has been active through its engineering arm Skoda Praha, Schmalz said. He did not disclose any possible acquisition targets.

CEZ makes most of its revenue in the Czech market, though it has increased its regional presence through acquisitions in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Schmalz said CEZ would probably not be interested in buying a stake in Polish power group Enea, which is seeking to raise up to 3 billion zlotys ($1.2 billion) through an offering of stock.

Schmalz said CEZ would not seek to buy shares in the IPO, as the form of the privatization would not allow it to acquire a substantial stake and to participate in managing the company. “We want that our voice was heard ... If we can effectively get only a few percent, than it simply is not the kind of investment that we would be interested in. Generally, our attitude towards IPOs is like that,” Schmalz said. (Financze.cz/Reuters) 

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