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By Luiza Ilie
BUCHAREST, May 28 (Reuters) - Romanian state-owned hydro power producer Hidroelectrica will likely exit insolvency in May or June 2015, then carry out a stock market listing in the second half of that year, its manager Remus Borza told Reuters on Wednesday.
Borza’s comments are the first time the company has given those dates and are later than a “best case” estimate made last month by a minority shareholder in the company.
They also differ from a projection by the energy minister in April, that the firm could exit insolvency as early as November this year, according to local media.
Romania’s largest power producer was first forced into insolvency in 2012 by a severe drought and a string of loss-making contracts, under which it sold the bulk of its output below market prices, causing losses of $1.4 billion over six years.
The company underwent a restructuring, cancelled the deals and exited insolvency late last year while turning a profit. But contract holders challenged their cancellation and a court ruling pushed the firm back into insolvency earlier this year.
Before it exits that status again, it needs to address the cancelled contracts and figure out what penalties it will incur.
The latest court ruling dashed plans to launch a stock market flotation of 15 percent by July of this year, a plan the leftist government had agreed with the International Monetary Fund under a 4 billion euro aid deal.
“The company will exit insolvency this time next year, in May-June,” court-appointed manager Borza said by phone. “The listing looks likely somewhere in the second half.”
Gabriel Dumitrascu, head of the energy ministry’s privatisation department, told Reuters he did not anticipate a shorter deadline for the firm to exit insolvency.
In April, Borza had estimated the planned dual listing on the Bucharest and London stock exchanges could raise between 300 million euros ($408.4 million) and 500 million through the sale of the 15 percent stake.
Last month, investment fund Fondul Proprietatea, holder of a 20 percent stake in Hidroelectrica which it values at 473 million euros, estimated the best case scenario to exit insolvency would be the end of this year. ($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Editing by Matthias Williams and David Holmes)