Czech power group CEZ posts lower 2012 profit

Czech state-run power group CEZ said Thursday its net profit in 2012 fell by 1.5 percent against 2011 on a drop in power prices and unfavourable trends on European energy markets.

CEZ posted net profits worth 40.2 billion koruna (1.6 billion euros, $2 billion).

Operating revenue rose by 2.5 percent to 215.1 billion koruna, while operating profits (EBITDA) fell by 2.1 percent to 85.5 billion koruna, the company said in a statement.

"All major energy companies in Europe are grappling with an unstable environment, a strong decline in wholesale energy prices and a hard-to-predict future," said chairman and chief executive Daniel Benes.

"The CEZ group has so far managed to adapt to the negative trend, it remains one of the least indebted energy companies in Europe and enjoys good financial health," he added.

The Czech state controls 66 percent of CEZ, ranked central Europe's biggest utility and public company.

It is traded on the Prague and Warsaw stock exchanges and operates at home as well as in Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey.

It has recently become the target of public anger in Bulgaria, where high energy bills sparked violent street rallies leading to the resignation of the country's cabinet last week.

Earlier this month, CEZ also said it would start international arbitration against Albania over its failure to protect its investment in a local energy distribution company.