Germany's RWE sells Lynemouth power plant to EPH

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - RWE RWEG.DE, Germany's second-biggest utility, has agreed to sell its Lynemouth coal-fired power plant in Britain to Czech-Slovak energy investment group EPH, it said on Thursday.

No purchase price was disclosed for the 420-megawatt (MW) plant in northern England, bought by RWE in 2012.

The sale comes after the European Commission in December approved British plans to subsidize Lynemouth’s conversion to burn biomass instead of coal, a plan RWE at the time said would take 18 months.

Burdened by tens of billion euros of net debt, RWE is currently in the process of pooling its renewables, networks and retail divisions into a new entity, hoping to escape a crisis in fossil fuel-based power generation.

In addition, RWE’s British unit Npower has suffered from billing problems and customer loss, prompting a review that could result in a sale if a turnaround fails to materialize.

For EPH, it is the latest portfolio addition after agreeing last year to buy a 66 percent stake in Slovak power utility Slovenske Elektrarne from Italy's Enel ENEI.MI as well as E.ON's EONGn.DE coal- and gas-fired power plants in Italy.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; editing by Andrew Roche