Paris / Prague The group of energy and industrial holding companies (EPHs) of Czech investor Daniel Kretinsky is interested in buying two of the last few coal-fired power plants in France. Referring to his sources, he wrote the French daily Le Monde on Thursday. However, officially, no group confirmed this. Kretinsky recently acquired a stake in Le Monde.
"We do not comment on speculation about our alleged intentions to acquire," EPH spokesman Daniel Castave said on Thursday.
According to Le Monde, Kretinsky wants to acquire French property of the German group Uniper, which mainly manages the coal plant in Gardan in the south of the country, and the second in Saint-Avold in the east. There are also two gas plants in Saint-Avold, the daily writes.
Kretinsky bought a part of the company, which controls French Le Monde. His share in the magazine is minimal
"The Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky explains his interest in investing in Le Monde, specifically by promoting" support for the press. "He did not have to be a lever for investing in the energy sector in France, but this does not prevent the EPH, the chairperson in looking for opportunities in the French market, "writes the letter.
He mentioned earlier speculations that Kretinsky's interest in paper work was actually an attempt to penetrate the French market and to seek state involvement in the energy company Engie. Sam Kretinsky, however, recently ruled out in an interview with the French daily Les Echos.
According to Le Monde, Uniper in France owns several solar and wind power plants and one supplier of electricity for small and medium enterprises.
"But EPH is not the only bidder, interest has been shown by several investment funds and the battle is not over yet," the newspaper said.
He also remarked that Uniper and other coal-fired power plants in the country will have to close by 2022, while President Emmanuel Macron was executed during the pre-election campaign, and in October the closure plan was confirmed by the Minister of Environment. "This policy decision and uncertainty about compensation will probably reduce stock prices," Le Monde said.
According to him, the new owner will have the power to close the power plant or convert it. For example, Gardanne has invested in biomass over the past few years, and the plant in Saint-Avold wants to switch to gas.
The energy sector in France is dominated by giant Total, Engie and EDF. Kretinsky said he sees no great opportunity for his group in France and does not plan to take part in the privatization of Engie's work, which will happen in the coming months, nor join the GRTGaz in the capital, Le Monde said.
"But this does not stop him from thinking about the future. According to our information, Daniel Kretinsky met with Patrick Pouianne, General Manager of Totale, and talked with him about the future of Engie in the event of a division of the group," Le Monde wrote. This scenario, however, remains a fiction. "Pouianne, completely frankly, ruled out the possibility of participating in any such operation," the diary concluded.