Croatia to choose partner for Plomin plant in Q1 '13

ZAGREB, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Croatia will choose by next Aprilits strategic partner in the construction of a 500-megawattthermal power plant in the northern Adriatic, Deputy PrimeMinister Radimir Cacic said on Wednesday.

Last month state power utility Hrvatska Elektroprivreda(HEP) shortlisted four bidders to partner it in the constructionof a coal-fired plant in Plomin in the northern Adriatic Istrianpeninsula.

The bidders were Italy's Edison, KOSEP from South Korea,Marubeni from Japan and Poland's POL-MOT. Seven companies hadexpressed interest in a preliminary stage.

"The (investment) cycle is starting with Plomin, which isworth around one billion euros with all accompanying facilities.We'll have the winning bidder by the end of next March," Cacicsaid.

The investment is part of a planned energy investment driveworth 10-15 billion euros by 2020, with most funds seen comingfrom foreign investors. Croatia wants to complete the plant by2017.

The goal is to reduce the country's strong dependence onenergy imports and kickstart the local economy after four yearsof recession. Croatia is scheduled to join the European Unionnext July.

HEP is the biggest local investor in the energy investmentcycle and it plans to issue an international bond worth up to500 million euros this month to finance the new projects and thereconstruction of its transmission network .($1 = 0.7754 euros)

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic andAlison Birrane)

((igor.ilic@thomsonreuters.com)(+385 1 4899 970)(mobile +385 98334 053))