ECONOMY

Loans for Bulgaria project

SOFIA (SeeNews) – US power company AES Corp signed loan deals with four international banks yesterday to finance the long-delayed construction of 1.042-billion-euro, 670-megawatt Maritsa East power plant in Bulgaria, to begin in the early spring of 2006. «The construction permit has been issued… the land has been procured,» Mathew Bartley, AES Maritsa East CEO, told a news conference. The four banks, France’s Calyon and BNP Paribas, Dutch ING Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), will provide 70 percent of the financing for the building of the coal-fired power plant. AES will use its own funds for the rest of the financing. There is no state guarantee for the loans financing the project, Bartley added. «This is the biggest single foreign investment in Bulgaria so far, and I think it is the biggest foreign investment in Southeast Europe for 2005,» Bulgaria’s Economy and Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov, who attended the signing ceremony, told reporters. The Maritsa East One section of the coal mining and electricity generating complex, which generates some 30 percent of Bulgaria’s electricity, is expected to start commercial operation in 2008.