CEZ Claims CEO’s Support for Zeman not PoliticalČTK
Prague, Jan 29 (CTK) – Daniel Benes, director general of the state-controlled power utility CEZ, did not get involved in politics when he supported President Milos Zeman shortly after his re-election on Saturday, CEZ spokesman Ladislav Kriz told CTK today.
“Benes was not involved in the campaign before the presidential election, he only supported the president after the election ended and he consequently congratulated him on his re-election,” Kriz said adding that the president is above political parties.
He said the CEZ group and its representatives always act in an apolitical way.
Benes was among the people who accompanied Zeman on the stage during a press conference on his election victory. According to CTK’s information, this was Benes’s private activity.
CEZ, the largest power utility and biggest public state-controlled company in Central and Eastern Europe, has about 26,000 employees, operates two nuclear power plants, ten coal-fired plants as well as hydroelectric, wind and solar power stations in the Czech Republic and it is active in several other European countries.
Benes dismissed the view that his presence on the stage was inappropriate. “I have been on friendly terms with Milos Zeman since the early 1990s. He was a newcomer (to politics) and I had nothing in common with CEZ then. This is why I came to support him to the headquarters of his election team. There is nothing more in it,” he told the website of the public Czech Radio (CRo) on Saturday.
Apart from his wife and daughter and members of his team, Zeman was accompanied on the stage by Social Democrat (CSSD) acting head Milan Chovanec, Freedom and Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura and private TV Barrandov television station head Jaromir Soukup.
In the last few years, the Czech media have been speculating that ANO leader Andrej Babis, now prime minister in resignation, wants to increase his influence on CEZ. Babis said one year ago that the representatives of the Finance Ministry, which he headed at the time, were against the extension of the mandate of the CEZ leaders, but they were outvoted and Benes was re-elected head of the board of directors until 2020.
Economist Stepan Krecek, from BH Securities, said Benes feels that his position of CEZ director has been threatened for a long time. “Benes is seeking strong allies because of this and one of them could be Milos Zeman. His direct support is the best way of how to get the president on his side,” Krecek said