Government protects Slovenské elektrárne against Russia
On Monday, the government unexpectedly and without any discussion approved legislation based on which any investor would need the government’s prior approval for acquiring over a 5% stake in critical infrastructure companies starting on March 1. The bill would impact the 18 largest industrial and energy firms, such as Slovenské elektrárne (SE), SPP, Slovnaft, and U.S. Steel Košice. The government argued by the pandemic, but in fact the bill is a response to SE’s precarious situation stemming from the botched Mochovce completion. SE is unable to repay its loans, and Sberbank, Russia’s semi-state bank, might demand a stake in SE in return for an €870m loan provided in 2014. Slovnaft and EPH (Daniel Křetínský) protest the bill will scare off investors. They point out that the bill will give the Slovak government the right to ban any ownership changes in shareholders of Slovak firms such as EPH, Enel, and MOL. It seems parliament will make changes when it discuses the bill today.