April 5, 2018 / 7:24 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-ContourGlobal seeking equity partner for new Kosovo coal plant

* Seeking an up to 49 pct equity partner

* Many institutions shunning coal investments

* CEO says Kosovo is a unique case

* (Updates throughout with comment)

By Susanna Twidale

LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - London-listed power generator ContourGlobal hopes to secure an equity partner for its new coal-fired power plant in Kosovo by the end of the year or early 2019, the company CEO told Reuters on Thursday.

Several financial institutions, such as insurers AXA and ING have announced plans divest from coal-based investments as part of a move to limit global warming.

However, ContourGlobal CEO Joseph Brandt said he is confident of securing financing and a partner, for an up to 49 percent stake in the 500 megawatt (MW) coal plant.

“The Kosovo project is exceptionally political ... everyone involved recognise it its driven by the nature of Kosovo as a fragile state,” Brandt said in an interview.

Kosovo is struggling with power shortages and around 90 percent of its power is produced in two ailing coal-fired plants which are seen as among the worst polluters in Europe.

The country’s government has endorsed the project and last year, Minister of Development Valdrin Lluka said it would help Kosovo’s economic growth rise to 5 or 6 percent in the coming years, up from around 4 percent in 2017.

Brandt was speaking to Reuters following the company’s first full-year results announcement since listing on the London Stock Exchange last year.

The company, which operates 83 power plants across Europe, Latin America and Africa and generates about 4,039 megawatts, said revenue rose 13 percent to $1.02 billion in 2017.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to $513 million from $440 million.

On listing last year the company said it planned to double its EBITDA within five years, which Brandt said would mainly be achieved through acquisitions.

“We are confident this will happen sooner than five years, given the recent acquisitions we have made,” he said.

ContourGlobal said in February it would buy five 50 MW Spanish solar power plants from Spain’s Acciona for 806 million euros.

Brandt said the company was technology neutral about new acquisitions and could target renewable or thermal power plants.

But he ruled out any acquisitions in the nuclear sector as it is not an area in which the company has expertise.

“I don’t see that changing ... it is not an area we are looking at,” Brandt said. ($1 = 0.8155 euros) (Reporting By Susanna Twidale, additional reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and David Evans)

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