The parliament in Moldova voted to sell its majority stakes in the country’s eight electricity companies in a tender process to be held this year, Reuters reports. The privatisation department of the former Soviet state is looking for investors prepared to clear the companies debts and provide investment for development.

Tendering companies will be able to buy 50 per cent of each company, plus one share, for a controlling interest. The companies on offer include three generating plants, two in the capital Chisinau and one in the northern town of Balti. There are also five regional distribution companies. Tenders will be judged on the sum offered and the best privatisation plan.

The five distribution companies are valued at up to $26 million. The companies require investment of between $14 million and $75 million.

Companies that tender for these distribution networks must be able to show experience in operating 110 kV systems serving over 100 000 people. Prospective bidders should have an annual turnover of over $100 million.

The three plants have been valued at $6-38 million, and will require investment of $24-213 million.

Moldova has a population of 4 million. In 1997 it consumed 4.88 TWh of electricity, 1.12 TWh produced in the three plants due to be privatised.