(Adds company comments, context on Chile energy)
SANTIAGO, March 31 Electricity generator Endesa
Chile said on Monday that it would assume full
ownership of the Gas Atacama power project by buying the
remaining 50 percent stake owned by private equity fund Southern
Cross for $309 million in cash.
Southern Cross had previously tried to sell its share of the
781-megawatt natural gas-fired power complex in Chile's
mineral-rich north to its joint venture partner, but Endesa
Chile rebuffed the offer in July, saying the price, which was
not disclosed, was too high.
Chile, the world's No.1 copper producer, is on the brink of
a power crunch, and coal-fired thermoelectric plants are
unpopular with communities and environmentalists.
As such, liquefied natural gas has appeared an increasingly
attractive option for the Andean country, but prices and
availability of the super-cooled fossil fuel remain question
Endesa Chile's high LNG contract availability and
flexibility allowed it to efficiently buy the fuel in Chile and
would allow it to optimize its use and location to supply
plants, the company said in a statement.
The two parties would have 30 days to sign off on documents
and contracts to wrap up the Gas Atacama transaction, Endesa
Shares of Endesa Chile were up 0.6 percent on Monday
afternoon, outpacing a 0.1 percent increase on Santiago's
blue-chip IPSA stock index.
(Reporting by Santiago newsroom; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer;
Editing by Franklin Paul and Lisa Von Ahn)