LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Plans by the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia to construct a major hydropower plant with a view to becoming an energy exporter got a boost from a $673 million investment by the Georgian Co-Investment Fund (GCF), the fund said on Thursday.
The new plant will help Georgia, which is already almost self-sufficient in energy, to meet its power needs in winter and allow it to export some electricity to Turkey through a transmission line financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The $6 billion Tbilisi-based private equity fund GCF, in which billionaire and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is one of the main investors, targets investment in energy, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.
GCF said in a statement that it also signed a contract with Icelandic power companies Verkis and Landsvirkjun Power to jointly conduct a feasibility study for the Tskhenistskali Cascade of the plant.
"These projects will not only bring significant benefits to the domestic electricity market and the local population, but they will also enable Georgia to become a prominent energy exporter catering for power demand from the region's big growth economies," George Bachiashvili, Chief Executive Officer of GCF, said in the statement.
Earlier this year, the International Financial Corporation also pledged $250 million for the project. (Reporting by Sujata Rao; wrtiting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)