VILNIUS Dec 20 (Reuters) - Lithuania's government said on Thursday it had reached a deal to merge private and state-owned electricity companies to get the financial firepower to help build a new nuclear power station.
After hitches in negotiating with privately-owned NDX Energia, the government said in a statement it had now agreed to merge NDX's grid company VST with state-owned grid company RST and state-owned system operator Lietuvos energija LEN1L.VL.
The government said it wanted to merge the companies so they would be able to raise the funds needed to meet Lithuania's share of the cost of the new nuclear plant, planned to have a capacity of 3,200-3,400 megawatts.
The government has estimated Lithuania's share at 7.5 billion Lithuanian litas ($3.12 billion) for a total bill of 22 billion litas. It has invited Poland, Latvia and Estonia also to take part in the project.
The parent company will be owned 61.7 percent by the state and 38.8 percent by NDX energija. The government is to offer to buy a 20.3 percent stake in RST owned by Germany's E.ON.
The merged company is set to float less than 0.3 percent of its shares on the Vilnius stock exchange. The combined market capitalisation of the firms is 8.5 billion litas.
The new nuclear power station is to replace the Ignalina plant, which has to be shut in 2009 under an agreement with the European Union. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Patrick Lannin)