Iberdrola hopes for 'fair' price after Bolivia nationalisation

30th December 2012, Comments 0 comments

Spanish energy group Iberdrola said Saturday it hopes Bolivia will pay "a fair price" for four electrical utilities nationalised by La Paz earlier in the day.

"We hope we will get the real value of our share" in the expropriated companies, an Iberdrola spokesman told AFP.

He did not say how much the Spanish company expected to be paid or whether an estimate had already been made.

Quoting market sources the Spanish press estimated Iberdrola's share in the nationalised electrical utilities in Bolivia at 100 million dollars.

Bolivian President Evo Morales announced earlier Saturday a decree targeting Iberdrola-owned utilities in the cities of La Paz and Oruro. They are called Electropaz and Elfeo respectively.

In La Paz, soldiers later took control of power plants that until now were run by Iberdrola, while police seized corporate offices.

It was the latest in a series of such seizures by the outspoken leftist who is a key member of a group of populist South American presidents led by the now-ailing Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

In May, Morales nationalised a subsidiary of another Spanish power group, Red Electrica Corporacion, which distributed electricity.

This time, Morales said he was acting because Iberdrola charged more for electricity in rural areas than it did in cities, and service was also uneven.

"We are forced to take this measure so that utility rates will be uniform" and service will be of the same quality in the country as in urban areas, the president said at a ceremony at the presidential palace.

He said Iberdrola would be compensated after an evaluation of its seized assets. This will be done by a private Bolivian company and can take up to six months.

Iberdrola owns 63.4 percent of Iberbolivia de Inversiones, which holds 89.5 percent of Electropaz and 92.8 percent of Elfeo, according to stock market data.

"To date we have not received the text of the nationalisation decree," signed by Morales, said the Iberdrola spokesman, but added that the company expected to get the paper soon.

© 2012 AFP

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