SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria has extended by two weeks until October 15 the deadline for filing initial bids for a 49 percent stake in a planned 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant following investor requests, state utility NETC said yesterday. NETC, which will keep 51 percent in the venture estimated to cost more than -5 billion ($7.09 billion), said the six short-listed European utilities needed more time to prepare the offers. «The deadline has been extended to give investors more time to go through numerous documents and also present more data they have requested,» the NETC spokeswoman said. Italy’s Enel, Germany’s E.ON and RWE, Czech CEZ, France’s EdF and Belgium’s Electrabel, part of French utility Suez, were invited to bid for the minority stake. NETC has said it plans to pick a strategic partner for the deal by the end of the year or early 2008 after negotiations with the bidders, based on the offered price, the financing and management involvement. The new plant in the Danube River town of Belene aims to make up for the closure of two 440-megawatt nuclear reactors at the end of 2006 and restore the country’s position as a leading power exporter in Southeast Europe. Bulgaria contracted with Russia’s Atomstroyexport, controlled by gas giant Gazprom, to build two 1,000-megawatt reactors in the Danube River town of Belene last year for -4 billion.