(Adds background, detail)
SARAJEVO, April 30 (Reuters) - Montenegro power utility EPCG has chosen Czech engineering group Skoda Praha, owned by power utility CEZ, as preferred bidder to build a new coal-fired unit at its Pljevlja power plant, it said on Thursday.
Skoda Praha bid 338.5 million euros ($379.12 million) to construct a 254 megawatt (MW) unit, while China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC) offered 326 million euros, EPCG said.
“A panel has concluded that talks should continue with the preferred bidder about all elements of a future contract,” EPCG said in a statement.
State-controlled EPCG, in which Italian utility A2A holds a 41.7 percent stake, added that Italian bank UniCredit will act as an adviser in selecting a possible partner to co-fund the project.
Montenegro, like other Balkan countries, faces an acute need for new power sources after decades of underinvestment and the government has long complained about a low level of investment by A2A and insisted that the company backs its plans for the Pljevlja plant.
EPCG posted a profit of 34.8 million euros in 2014, up 38 percent from the previous year. ($1 = 0.8929 euros) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Goodman)