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Germany's RWE, Bulgaria's NEK Sign Contract for Belene Nuclear Plant

Date: 22.12.2008

Representatives of the German energy company RWE and of Bulgaria's state owned national electricity company NEK signed Friday the formal agreement, with which RWE joins the project for the construction of Belene Nuclear Power Plant.

The contract was signed by the Chief Executive Director of NEK Lyubomir Velkov, the NEK Executive Director Mardik Papazyan, the Chief Executive Director of RWE Gerd Jaeger, and the finance director of RWE Antonio Foss.

Under the contract, RWE will receive a share of 49% of the Belene plant in exchange for a capital payment of EUR 1,275 B, a premium of EUR 550 for NEK, and a loan of EUR 300 M for the purchase of equipment and other expenditures.

Thus, RWE will be providing more than EUR 2 B, which is more than half of the cost of the project, which is estimated at EUR 4 B.

The RWE Director Gerd Jaeger announced that the German concern was going to invite the Belgium company Elektrabel as a partner in its share in the Belene NPP.

During the final stage of the tender for the 49% share of the new plant, Elektrabel was left second. Now, however, Jaeger said the two companies were negotiating to split RWE's share of 49% into two packages of 24,5%.

In his words, any formal deal between them, as well as any steps on how to accelerate the construction of the plant, would become clear in mid 2009.

The contract that RWE signed with NEK leaves an option for the inclusion of Elektrabel in the project.

Jaeger also stated the German company was fully convinced of its benefit from participating in the Belene project despite the recent publications in the German media that the power strife in RWE was linked to Bulgaria's second NPP, and concerns about its environmental effects and seismic threats.

The RWE finance director Foss said in turn the Belene project was a challenge in times of the present financial crisis, but that the company was optimistic about providing the necessary funding.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Stanishev was also present at the ceremony for the signing of the contract. He pointed out the Belene NPP would guarantee the electricity supplies for the whole region, and would provide employment to hundreds of Bulgarian firms.

Bulgaria's Energy and Economy Minister Dimitrov said in turn the present week was really successful for Bulgaria in terms of signing large investment deals, citing the contract with the US company AES for the construction of Bulgaria's largest wind power park.

The Belene Nuclear Power Plant is being constructed by the Russian company Atomstroyexport under a contract for EUR 3,997 B. BNP Paribas is the bank selected to structure the funding of the project.

The first 1000 MW reactor of the Belene NPP is supposed to be launched at the end of 2013, and the second 1000 MW unit is supposed to start working a year later.

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