Enel in Talks with US, Russian Bidders for Bulgaria Plant - ReportEnergy | January 25, 2011, Tuesday // 19:21| views
Talks about the sale of Maritsa East 3, a Bulgarian coal-fired plant with a capacity of 908 megawatts, emerged for the first time at the beginning of March last year. Photo by klassa.bg
Italian energy giant Enel is holding talks with US investment fund Contour Global and Russia's InterRAO for its majority stake in Maritsa East 3, a Bulgarian coal-fired plant, local media reports.
"Contour Global is the preferred bidder for the 908 megawatt Maritsa East 3 coal-fired plant in Bulgaria, but it is facing funding problems. That's why Russia's Inter RAO emerges as the most likely buyer," Capital weekly said, citing insiders.
Should the Russian company acquire Enel's assets in Bulgaria, it will become of the biggest energy companies in the country, accounting for about 12% of its electricity output.
Experts say Inter RAO's planned Bulgarian purchases fit in well with the strategy of the Russian company, which already owns GRES, the largest power station of Moldova, which exports electricity to Romania and Bulgaria.
In late July, Austria's utility EVN, which already owns EVN Bulgaria, an electricity distribution company in south and southeast Bulgaria, confirmed it is holding talks for the acquisition of a majority stake in the Maritsa East 3 coal-fired power plant.
British utility International Power, US power producer AES Corp. and CEZ AS are also said to have shown interest in acquiring Enel majority stake in Maritsa East 3.
A year ago Enel increased the capacity of Maritsa East Three plant to 908 megawatts, up from 840 MW, and also put new desulphurisation installations on the plant's four units.
Experts comment that the potential buyer is probably eying a 100% stake in the plant, in which the state owns a 27% stake. The rumors were fanned by a statement of Energy and Economy Minister Traicho Traikov, who recently announced that the state can land EUR 200 M from the sale of its stake in the plant.
The plant is located in the Maritsa East lignite coal mining complex in southern Bulgaria, which generates 30% of the country's electricity. Enel also owns seven wind parks of 3 megawatts near the Black Sea coast.