Lukashenko says he may quit as president
Belarus hits EU with tit-for-tat sanctions
Belarusian police introduce colour-coded torture system for detained protesters
Kremlin publicly condemns Belarusian police brutality in hint of growing frustration with Lukashenko
Russian services PMI rises to 48.2, but remains underwater as recovery continues to slow
Russia to start mass vaccinations on December 7
Azerbaijan’s Aliyev calls on Armenia, Russia, Turkey and Iran to assist in creating Nakhchivan land corridor
FPRI BMB Russia: Sberbank releases a three-year transformation strategy to e-commerce concern
Ukraine debt: muddling through for a bit longer but 2021 will be tough
Webinar & Podcast: Whither Ukraine in 2021?
Ukraine strikes deal with Turkey to produce killer drones instrumental in Karabakh conflict
COMMENT: Ukraine and the Biden Presidency
Economic sentiment in CEE falls in November as recovery momentum splutters
Estonian animation studio Imepilt to hold IPO
COVID-19 shot news cheers Nasdaq Baltic after tough 2020
Kahoot pays $31mn cash for Tallinn-based Hungarian learning startup
Brighter days ahead: The economic bounce back in 2021
Central, Southeast Europe stock markets jump in anticipation of COVID-free future
VISEGRAD BLOG: An easing of trade tensions but still an uncertain situation for export-oriented Central Europe
Hungary's ruling party in damage control mode after MEP sex scandal bombshell
Hungarian MEP involved in Brussels lockdown orgy bust
Poland’s PMI remains stuck just above the improvement line at 50.8 in November
Sharp drop in COVID-19 cases prompts new questions on Poland’s strategy of containment
Czech companies dominate this year’s Deloitte Technology Fast 50 CE
Coronacrisis to get worse before it gets better forecasts wiiw
EU diplomats say no chance of Bulgaria removing veto for Skopje to start EU accession talks
IMF says downside risks to Albanian economy are increasing
EU ministers fail to agree on launch of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia
Western Balkans commit to green agenda and regional common market at Sofia summit
Bosnia’s opposition ousts nationalist parties in major cities
Bosnia’s main ethnic parties fight to hold onto power in local elections
Southeast Europe’s EU members to get biggest boost from next budget and recovery funds
Bulgaria imposes 3-week lockdown to slow down COVID-19 spread
CEE politicians highlight trade and security ties as they congratulate Biden
UPDATED: Kosovo’s President Hashim Thasi resigns to face war crimes charges
Breakaway Transnistria fully under Sheriff’s control as Obnovlenie party sweeps board in parliament election
Moldova’s presidential election is over, now the battle for the parliament begins
Moldova’s foreign policy reset
Russian establishment quick to congratulate Moldova's new president-elect
Rising COVID-19 cases put intense pressure on CEE healthcare systems
Soaring COVID-19 cases in parts of Central and Southeast Europe force governments to impose new restrictions
MEPs urge European Commission to act against Hungarian media financing in North Macedonia and Slovenia
North Macedonia mulls decriminalising cannabis to boost tourism
Bulgarians deeply divided over government’s decision to block North Macedonia’s EU talks
Aegon to sell its CEE business to Vienna Insurance for €830mn
Constitutional Court defers decision on Romania's budget-busting 40% pension hike
The state is back in business
Slovenian PM Jansa stands alongside Hungary and Poland in EU rule of law row
Erdogan needs to go says analyst assessing Turkey’s economic collapse
Second virus wave ‘took wind out of Turkish manufacturing’s sails in November latest PMI shows’
In Karabakh deal, as many questions as answers
Protesters flood Yerevan demanding Armenia’s “traitor” PM quit over Nagorno-Karabakh surrender
Who emerge as the real winners from the bloody Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Below average 2020 wine production destined for volatile and uncertain global market
Iranian prosecutors pledge to pursue Trump for Soleimani killing even after he leaves White House
Israel out to provoke war in dying days of Trump says Khamenei’s adviser after assassination of Iran’s nuclear mastermind
Attack of the Debt Tsunami: global debt soars to a new all-time high
KAZ Minerals says risks around Baimskaya copper project in Russia up due to new government infrastructure plan
Kazatomprom resumes activities at all Kazakhstan mining operations
Kyrgyzstan's proposed new constitution provokes widespread revulsion
Kyrgyzstan's China debt: Between crowdfunding and austerity
CFC joins RWC in assessing KAZ Minerals buyout offer as under-valuation
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
Mongolian coal exports to China paralysed as Beijing demands virus testing of truck drivers
Mongolia fears economic damage as country faces up to its first local transmissions of coronavirus
Mongolia in lockdown after suffering first local coronavirus transmissions
Mongolia’s wrestling culture: From the grasslands to the cage
No surprises in Tajikistan as Rahmon retains presidency with 91% of vote
A Tajikistan poised on verge of economic calamity set for vote
Tajikistan revives on-off dispute with Iran
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
Turkmenistan: Everybody yurts, sometimes
Dirty money investigation reviews identified payments worth $1.4bn linked to Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan unveils extensive privatisation programme
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Bulgaria’s Competition Protection Committee (CPC) allowed financial and insurance group Eurohold Bulgaria to acquire the local assets of Czech company CEZ after completing a second in-depth inquiry into the deal, Eurohold said in a press release on October 29.
This would put an end to years-long attempts by CEZ to sell its assets in Bulgaria. The company has repeatedly complained about the local authorities, claiming they are making its operations difficult.
”The acquisition of the companies of CEZ Group is part of the strategy of Eurohold to enter new regulated markets in Southeast Europe and the creation of a leading regional utility company,” Eurohold said in the press release.
The integration of the CEZ companies in Bulgaria into the structure of Eurohold will be backed by an energy board and the current top management of CEZ in Bulgaria.
“We see the deal for CEZ as a step towards our entering in the energy business and an opportunity for diversification of our portfolio,” Vassil Stefanov, Eurohold Bulgaria’s manager for mergers and acquisitions, said in the press release.
CPC re-opened the inquiry at the end of August after in July the administrative court lifted CPC’s ban on the deal.
In October 2019, the deal was blocked after the CPC launched an in-depth investigation, claiming that the deal would significantly affect market positions. Eurohold was asked to provide additional documents to prove the deal would not affect the market.
In November, Eurohold appealed against the ban and the court ruled that CPC had severely violated procedures. Moreover, the court ruled that CPC must pay BGN10,050 (€5,138).
CEZ decided to leave the country over long-standing disputes with the Bulgarian authorities, and the deal with Eurohold came after an earlier deal struck by the Czech utility to exit its investment in the country was blocked by regulators.
At the beginning of October 2019, CEZ said it would give up selling its Bulgarian assets if its second attempt to strike a deal was blocked by the local authorities.
Meanwhile, the law firm Schoenherr has posted an analysis of the CPC’s actions, claiming that they sent the hidden message that CEZ’ assets were not for sale. CPC’s decision appeared rather controversial due to the speed of the in-depth proceedings. Moreover, it skipped some of the procedural steps, according to the law firm.
In the never-completed deal announced in February 2018, CEZ selected local family-owned firm Inercom as the buyer of its Bulgarian assets, which raised serious concerns about the Bulgarian company’s ability to fund and run the assets. Adding to the controversy, Inercom was also found to be owned by a close friend of Bulgaria's energy minister.
The CPC ruled that the highly controversial deal could not be completed because Inercom would gain excessive influence over the photovoltaic (PV) electricity market. At the time, local analysts suggested that the decision of the antitrust body had no serious grounds, and aimed to put an end to the major political dispute around the sale of CEZ's assets to an unknown and politically connected company. Appeals by CEZ and Inercom were rejected.
In Bulgaria, CEZ operates an electricity distribution business with 2mn customers, a retail electricity supplier and a wholesale trader. The Varna coal-fired power plant, also owned by the firm, has an installed capacity of 1,265 MW, and was recently acquired by Ahmed Dogan, the chairman of honour of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). In addition, CEZ owns two renewable plants.
Hundreds of supporters of North Macedonia’s opposition VMRO-DPMNE party staged a protest in Skopje on November 26 to defend national interests following what they said was a "scandalous interview" ... more
North Macedonia has withdrawn plans to invest in Bulgaria’s Belene nuclear power plant project, local media reported on November 23, citing the director of the state-run power producer ESM.
The ... more
The EU will not give the green light for the start of an Intergovernmental Conference with North Macedonia at the meeting of its foreign ministers on November 17 due to the Bulgarian veto, North ... more
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