SLOVAKIA’S dominant power producer, Slovenské Elektrárne (SE), will get a loan at €870 million for 7.5 years from Russian Sberbank. The money should be spent on buying nuclear fuel or technologies and completing the nuclear power plant in Mochovce, but also to pay off part of its previous loans, the Sme daily reported in its June 11 issue.

Several media outlets reported in connection with the loan that the transaction comes at a time when Italian firm Enel officially said that its share in SE is included among the property it might sell to decrease its €40-billion debt.

“The successful conclusion of this contract is an important milestone in boosting the company’s financial stability and support to our growth plans in the central European region,” SE CEO Luca D’Agnese said, as quoted by the SITA newswire, after signing the loan contract on June 10 in Moscow.
Sberbank CEO Herman Gref added that energy has always been one of the key sectors of financing for the bank, and “we are glad that we are expanding cooperation with one of the biggest global energy holdings, despite turbulent times experienced by the Russian economy”, as reported by SITA.
“We plan to continue boosting our cooperation with major European companies,” Gref added.

Such a huge loan is exceptional for the central European region, especially when offered by a single bank, Sme wrote, adding that, for example, a €200 million loan taken out by the Slovnaft oil refinery came from eight banks in total.

Meanwhile, Slovak media reported on Enel’s plans to sell some of its property to decrease a high debt.

“SE is not the sole such acquisition,” D’Agnese told the press, as quoted by the Hospodárske Noviny daily.

Enel entered SE in 2006, after it bought a 66-percent share for €840 million. The remaining 34-percent stake is in the hands of the government privatisation agency the National Property Fund (FNM), whose shareholder rights are executed by the Economy Ministry.

Slovakia’s Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský said he has no official information about the intention of Enel to sell its SE shares. He only knows that the Italians placed the plant on the list of firms it might sell, as reported by SITA.

According to the media, possible buyers of the SE shares could include Russian Rosatom or Czech ČEZ.
Malatinský admitted that if Russians enter SE it may deepen Slovakia’s dependence on Russia.

The government can guide the negotiations with the Italian investor also since there is no agreement on whether Enel should still pay the state the rest for the privatisation of SE and how much. The minister said that it could theoretically sell the firm if the issue remains unresolved. However, the Italian investor would risk a lower price in this case, as reported by Sme.