Bulgaria's antitrust regulator has given approval to US investment fund Contour Global to acquire the majority stake of Italian energy giant Enel in Maritsa East 3, a Bulgarian coal-fired plant.
Enel reached in the middle of March an agreement to sell a 73% stake in Bulgaria's lignite-fired Maritsa East 3 power plant to Contour Global LP for EUR 230 M. The impact on net debt reduction will be about EUR 450 M.
The deal will be carried out via the fund's unit Contour Global Bulgaria Holdings.
Contour Global, which specialises in electric power and district heating businesses, was rumored to be the preferred bidder for the 908 megawatt Maritsa East 3 coal-fired plant in Bulgaria, but the deal was hampered by its funding problems. That's why the other main bidder Russia's Inter RAO was widely expected to be picked as a buyer of the majority stake.
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 were 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 expected 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, which it also plans to sell.