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ČEZ chief Martin Roman’s early exit no surprise


Although his mandate as ČEZ chief isn’t up until Feb. 2012, Martin Roman agreed with Czech PM Petr Nečas to step down as CEO early

Martin Roman stál v čele ČEZ od roku 2004. foto: © ČTKČeská pozice

Martin Roman is expected to step down as CEO of Czech power utility ČEZ on Thursday and be replaced by Daniel Beneš, the current vice-chairman of the ČEZ board of directors. PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) is said to want the new boss of the state-controlled firm to fully concentrate on the planning of the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia.

“I’m stepping down in agreement with the prime minister. I told Petr Nečas of my intention [to leave the post] this May. The prime minister requested me to put my experience to use at least in the role of chairman of the supervisory board, and I accepted this offer,” Roman told Czech Position. According to our information, Roman first announced his intention to quit the CEO post in November 2010.

Strictly confidential

Upon agreement with Nečas, Roman was to announce his departure next Wednesday, but because, as is most likely, someone in the Government Office couldn’t hold their tongue, the announcement came earlier. The agreement was kept secret to such an extent that no government coalition partners, ministers, ČEZ managers or even the PM’s chief advisor, Martin Říman, were informed. Říman is currently the chairman of the ČEZ board of supervisors and will have to vacate the post for Roman.

There has been talk about Roman’s imminent departure from the CEO post for several months. There was speculation about his potential successors with boss of Czech Railways (ČD) Petr Žaluda, and ex-Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek (ODS) among those mentioned. Nevertheless, the news took almost everyone by surprise because he was expected to remain at the post until February 2012, when his mandate ends.

ČEZ’s profits are falling but not to an extent to warrant the resignation of the CEO, and according to Czech Position’s information, there were no major arguments or riffs between Nečas and Roman that would lead to his dismissal. As Roman said, he is leaving after agreeing with Nečas, but the question remains as to why the move wasn’t announced at the general meeting (AGM) of the company in June, since Roman told Nečas in May of his intention to leave the CEO post. One can therefore expect that in the coming days people will be looking for the real story behind Roman’s departure.

Successes not without criticism 

Roman’s successes as CEO of ČEZ since 2004 are undisputable. In a short time after his taking up the post, the electricity generation and distribution company became the largest electricity producer and retailer in the CEE region, and was at various times rated as the most-profitable, fastest growing and best-managed firm in the region.

The question now is what 42-year-old Roman will do, after all the post of director of ČEZ’s supervisory board is not a full-time job. An answer can be expected within months rather than weeks. Over the past few years, Roman has faced increasingly staunch criticism for cultivating especially close ties with several politicians.

Over the past few years, Roman has faced increasingly staunch criticism for cultivating especially close ties with several politicians, namely from Topolánek’s circle, especially after it emerged that Roman and Topolánek holidayed together in Tuscony, Italy.

ČEZ is also under investigation by the European Commission, which suspects it of unfair practices by preventing other companies from building power plants in the Czech Republic. ČEZ also faces criticism for several deals, namely the sale of its 50 percent stake in the German mining company Mibrag to Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH), the sale of the nuclear power servcing and maintenance firm I&C Energo to the Hungarian oil and gas major MOL, and the purchase of solar energy farms from Amun Re.

Questions have also been raised about ČEZ’s preparations for the multi-billion crown tender for the building of two new reactor blocks at the Temelín nuclear power plant. The Prague- and Warsaw-listed company also faces an investigation for having twice prematurely released of its financial results. Over the past two months, reports have emerged that the relationship between Roman and Topolánek had become strained.

Over the past two months, however, reports have emerged that the relationship between Roman and Topolánek had become strained. Roman didn’t succeed in getting ČEZ’s candidate nominated as chairman of the state Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ), which indicated that his political influence has waned considerably.

Another disagreement with Nečas emerged when candidates were being selected for a new chairman of the Association for District Heating of the Czech Republic (ADH ČR). Mirek Topolánek was the only candidate for the post, but according to Czech Position’s information, Nečas was opposed to ČEZ backing him, though the ex-prime minister received the power company’s vote and gained the post.  

Martin Roman (1969)

Martin Roman graduated from the Faculty of Law at Charles University in Prague. He then studied on a one-year scholarship program at the St. Gallen University in Switzerland, at the Faculty of Economics. He also spent one year studying at the Karl-Ruprechtsuniversität in Heidelberg, Germany.

Roman began his professional career in 1992 when still a student when he was appointed sales director of the Czech branch of Wolf Bergstrasse ČR, a company specializing in the manufacture of potato crisps. From 1994 to 1999 he worked as the CEO of Janka Radotín, and in 1998, after the acquisition of the company by a strategic partner – the US company Lennox — he was appointed to the company board.

In 1999 he joined Škoda Holding, in Plzeň, as Chairman of the Board and General Director, and in April 2000 he was appointed Chairman of the Board and a CEO of the entire joint-stock company Škoda Holding, after which he went to ČEZ in 2004.

Daniel Beneš (1970)

Daniel Beneš graduated from the Machining faculty of the Mining School, Technical University of Ostrava.

From 1993 to 1997 he was as a sales manager in the mining company Bohemiacoal, later becoming the managing director of the Hedviga Group. From 2000 to 2004 he was managing director of the Tchas, which is a leading fuel importer and merchant in the Czech Republic. In 2004 he joined ČEZ as Chief Procurement Officer.

In 2006 Beneš was appointed held Chief Administration Officer, and as of June, 2007 named Chief Operating Officer. He also serves represents as chairman of the advisory board of the mining firm Severočeské doly, which is majority-owned by ČEZ.