The Venezuelan government has successfully auctioned its first electricity utility.

Sene, which sells electricity to 300 000 customers on the resort island of Margarita and the adjacent islands of Coche and Cubagua, was sold to Enelmar, a consortium of CMS Electric and Gas, Casa Paris and Consultores Occidentales for $90 million. One other company bid for the 70 per cent stake in the company.

The government made significantly more than expected. The base price set for the auction was $35.5 million for a 100 per cent stake in Sene. Of the 30 per cent of the shares not sold to Enelmar, 20 per cent have been set aside for the company’s employees and the remaining 10 per cent will be offered on the Caracas stock exchange.

The next electricity sector auction will be for Semda which covers the eastern states of Delta Amacuro and Monagas. The Venezuelan electricity industry requires around $5 billion to modernize it.