Montenegro buys first part of A2A's stake in utility EPCG

SARAJEVO, May 15 (Reuters) - The Montenegrin government on Tuesday paid a first tranche of 68.9 million euros ($81.6 million) to buy Italian company A2A’s stake in the Balkan country’s power utility EPCG.

EPCG has been jointly managed by A2A and the Montenegrin government, but the two have been at odds for years because A2A opposed the government’s plans to add a new coal-fired power plant, while Montenegro complained of low investment by A2A.

A2A said last June it planned to sell its entire 41.7 percent holding in EPCG for 250 million euros.

However, the Montenegrin government said on Tuesday the total amount it would pay had been trimmed “from 250 million euros to 230.6 million euros, at a discount rate that corresponds to Montenegro’s borrowing parameters and the corresponding maturity”.

Following the initial payment, the government will hold a 70.16 percent stake in EPCG, up from 57.01 percent previously.

It was initially envisaged the government would pay for A2A’s stake in seven annual instalments, to ease the burden on the state budget.

However, the government said it would pay the remaining amount in three tranches due in July 2018, May 2019 and July 2019.

A2A, controlled by the Italian cities of Milan and Brescia, spent around 436 million euros on buying a 43.7 percent holding in EPCG, which it later cut to 41.7 percent.

$1 = 0.8441 euros Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Mark Potter