September 11, 2014 / 2:41 PM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Slovakia interested in raising stake in Enel local unit

(Adds details on bidding)

PRAGUE, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Slovakia is looking at various ways to strengthen its position in domestic electricity producer Slovenske Elektrarne, which has been put up for sale by majority owner Enel, Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Thursday.

Fico told reporters the state, which already owns a 34 percent share, could try to buy Enel’s 66 percent stake or take a 17 percent stake to give it a majority.

“If it is advantageous for us and we have financial resources, we will try at least to increase Slovakia’s shareholding in Slovenske Elektrarne,” he said.

“There is the possibility we would not buy 66 percent but, for example, only strive to buy 17 percent, which would ... give us a majority. But we need to find a partner for that who would be interested in 49 percent. There are several options.”

Enel, Italy’s biggest utility, has put its stake in the Slovak group up for sale as part of efforts to cut its debt.

Enel’s Chief Executive Francesco Starace told Reuters on Sept. 6 the company expected to start negotiations with one or two potential bidders by mid-November.

Czech power producer CEZ has already said it was preparing to take part in talks while another Czech energy group EPH has shown interest.

Fico has said Slovakia would have no problem with CEZ, central Europe’s biggest utility, as an investor in the company.

A banking source told Reuters in June that several companies had shown preliminary interest in Slovenske Elektrarne. The banker said the business had an enterprise value of about 3.8 billion euros, including debt of 1 billion.

The Slovak company is working on the completion of two nuclear power units at its Mochovce plant at a cost of about 3.8 billion euros after earlier budget targets were exceeded. (Reporting by Jason Hovet, Editng by Jan Lopatka and Mark Potter)

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