In talks about the sale of Maritsa East 3, a 908 MW Bulgarian coal-fired plant, which have been progressing since March, Russia’s state owned power trading company Inter RAO has emerged as the most likely buyer. Up for sale is a majority stake in the plant, currently owned by Italy’s Enel SpA.

Enel, advised by Deutsche Bank AG, expects to realise Euros 600m from the sale. Talks are apparently at an advanced stage. Enel SpA, had first announced its intention to sell its stake in September 2009, nominating the autumn of 2010 as the likely date. Enel announced at the same time that it planned to sell gas distribution assets in Spain by the same deadline.

Other contenders for Maritsa East 3 include Austrian utility EVN, which already owns EVN Bulgaria, an electricity distribution company in south and southeast Bulgaria. UK utility International Power, US power producer AES Corp. and CEZ AS are also said to have shown interest.

A year ago Enel repowered the plant from 840 MW to 908 MW, and installed FGD equipment on all of its four units.

A 100% stake in the plant is probably available as the government has indicated that it wants to liquidate its 27% stake and expects to raise Euros 200 m from the sale.