December 18, 2015 / 6:55 PM / 4 years ago

Enel sells stake in Slovak power group, including nuclear plant, to EPH

* Deal part of Enel’s asset disposal plan

* Final price depends on completion of delayed nuclear plant

* Slovak government may raise stake

By Tatiana Jancarikova and Jan Lopatka

BRATISLAVA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Italy’s Enel agreed on Friday to sell its 66 percent stake in the main Slovak power utility Slovenske Elektrarne to a privately-held Czech-Slovak energy investment group EPH for a preliminary price of 750 million euros ($812.70 million).

The companies said sale would be in two stages and the final price would be subject to adjustments related to the condition of the Slovak producer once it completes its Mochovce nuclear power plant, possibly three years from now.

The sale is part of Enel’s 5 billion euro disposal plan to give Europe’s second largest utility by capacity greater exposure to renewable energy, emerging markets and grids.

For EPH, the deal is a major acquisition adding some 5,000 megawatts in nuclear, hydro and thermal capacity to its central European assets. Analysts view taking on the nuclear plant as high risk.

“The Mochovce expansion project is a liability. EPH is buying hundreds of tonnes of concrete that may either generate profit or loss in the future,” Slovak Foreign Policy Association energy analyst Karel Hirman said.

The cost of two 470 megawatt units at Mochovce has jumped to 4.6 billion euros from an original 2.8 billion and construction has been delayed for several years.

Slovenske Elektrarne said in its 2014 annual report that expected capex until 2019 would be 2.2 billion euros, mostly at Mochovce.

Also, EPH is buying the company when power prices in the region have plummeted to multi-year lows below 30 euros, about a third of what would make new nuclear plants profitable.

Under the deal, Enel will get 150 million euros in the first stage which will give EPH 33 percent in the company.

The other 33 percent, along with the rest of the purchase price, will be transferred a year after Mochovce is completed, adjusted for the value of the firm at the time.

The adjustment will take into account “net financial position of SE, developments in energy prices in the Slovak market, operating efficiency ... and the enterprise value of units 3 and 4 of Mochovce,” Enel and EPH said in a joint statement.

Enel bought the stake in 2006 for 840 million euros.

The purchase gives EPH another big Slovak asset after it took a 49 percent stake in the euro zone country’s main gas transit pipeline, Eustream. The rest of the pipeline is owned by the Slovak state.

The Slovak government is in talks with Enel under which, in the second phase of the deal, it may take a 17 percent stake in the company from Enel to raise its holding to 51 percent. EPH would have 49 percent.

EPH has grown rapidly in the past couple of years into one of central Europe’s biggest energy groups with assets of 10.26 billion euros in 2014.

Slovenske Elektrarne posted a net profit of 170 million euros last year, down from 355 million in 2013. ($1 = 0.9228 euros) (Editing by Jane Merriman)

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