Slovakia Steps Up Pressure on Enel Over Nuclear Project

(Bloomberg) -- Slovakia is stepping up pressure on private shareholders of the country’s largest utility, including Enel SpA, amid signs its flagship nuclear project faces further delay and extra costs.

Slovenske Elektrarne AS, in which Enel and Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding own a combined 66 percent stake, has said the costs of two additional reactors at the Mochovce site will swell by another 270 million euros ($305 million), while the start of the first unit may be delayed by eight months. The state, which owns the remaining 34 percent of the utility, won’t foot the bill, Economy Minister Peter Ziga said.

The decade-old project has turned into a nightmare for the Italian utility, which has sold half of its stake to EPH and pledged to hold on to the remaining shares until the new units are built. The budget has more than doubled to 5.7 billion euros, especially after safety standards were tightened following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in Japan. The series of delays and cost overruns complicates Enel’s relationship with the government led by the Smer party, an advocate of more state influence in the economy.

“We have been pointing to bad management of the project for many years,” Ziga told reporters in capital Bratislava on Tuesday. “The state will in no way participate on the financing.”

Separately, Slovak police pressed fraud charges against two Italian citizens who were former senior managers at Slovenske Elektrarne. One of them was detained at Bratislava airport. The police said the case is related to construction of Mochovce.

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said he “welcomes” the police action. Slovenske Elektrarne doesn’t know the reasons or the details of the case, but it always fully cooperates with law enforcement authorities, company spokesman Miroslav Sarissky said.

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