Russia's state energy company Inter RAO will most likely pay EUR 600 M to Italy's Enel SpA for a majority stake in Bulgaria's Maritsa East 3 coal-fired power plan, according to reports.
The deal is expected to be finalized before the end of 2010, according to reports in the Italian media.
Inter RAO, Austrian energy company EVN, British utility International Power, US power producer AES Corp. and CEZ AS are said to have shown interest in acquiring Enel majority stake in Maritsa East 3.
Enel, advised by Deutsche Bank, is selling its 73% in Maritsa East 3 as part of a plan to pay off debts amounting to EUR 50 B. The EUR 600 M price would be smaller than the EUR 700 M the Italian company invested in the rehabilitation of sulfur filters at the Bulgarian thermal power plant. It first announced its plans to sell Maritsa East 3 in March 2010.
The Italian company is not pulling out of Bulgaria altogether because its subsidiary Enel Green Power is active in the renewable energy sphere in the country.
Enel's major shareholders are Italy's Economy Ministry (13.88%) and the state bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (17.36%).
A year ago Enel increased the capacity of Maritsa East Three plant to 908 megawatts, up from 840 MW, and also put new desulphurization 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 Bulgarian 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.