Italian energy company Enel has entered into "exclusive negotiations" with Czech privately-owned energy company Energetický a Prumyslový Holding (EPH) for the sale of Enel's 66% stake in Slovakia's Slovenské Elektrárne (SE), Enel said in a statement.
On the basis of the outcome of the negotiations, Enel and EPH may sign a binding agreement for the sale "in the coming weeks Enel said in a statement on its website.
SE owns and operates Slovakia's two nuclear plants at Bohunice and Mochovce. In May, Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said the government, which owns 34% of SE, wants to gain control of the utility to prevent any sale to a third party.
In 2006 Enel paid €840m ($1.1bn) for its 66% stake in SE and agreed to complete construction of two additional reactors (units 3&4) at Mochovce. However, in July 2014, Enel announced plans to sell its holdings in Romania and Slovakia, including its SE stake, as part of a €6bn asset sale, which began in 2013, to reduce the group's financial debt. In late July Enel said it would sell its SE stake in two stages starting with a minority stake by the end of this year and the remainder, at the insistence of the Slovak government, only after construction of Mochovce 3&4. Completion is now expected a year later than previously planned - in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
In addition to the offer from EPH, Enel also received a final offer from a, a Hungarian-Slovak consortium of MVM Group and the refinery Slovnaft. Finland's Fortum and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) have also expressed interest in buying a stake. CNNC is carrying out due diligence and may bid by the end of August, the Slovak government said.