NEC launches final round of talks with RWE, Electrabel

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bulgaria's power grid operator the National Electricity Company (NEC) launched the final round of talks with Germany's RWE and Belgium's Electrabel, who are bidding to become strategic investors in Belene nuclear power plant, sources close to the procedure said, as quoted by on April 3.

NEC wants the two candidates to clarify their offers for a 49 per cent stake in the company that will build and run Belene. The two 1000MW reactors of the plant are scheduled to be connected to the power grid by 2014.

NEC said it would not rush the decision, even though Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov said that the strategic investor in Belene would be known within days.

According to Reuters news agency, RWE was the favourite because of it was willing to pour in 400 million euro in construction straight away. The investment is of crucial importance for the financing of the nuclear power plant, given the rising costs of lending and the global financial crisis. sources, however, said that a last minute turn-around in the selection procedure should not be ruled out, because collateral on the financing, alongside other offer parameters, carried no less weight.

NEC is expected to select just one investor, who can in turn then sell part of its stake in the Belene project to another investor in a risk-sharing move.

The two finalists could tie-up, while Italy's Enel, Germany's E.ON and the Czech CEZ, who were all on the shortlist for investment, could also be interested in acquiring a stake. Media reports claimed RWE has already approached those three companies over potential partnership talks.

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