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Metka wins lucrative Syria deal, shares soar

Greece’s biggest power plant builder, Metka, said on Monday it won a €650 million ($932.4 million) deal, with Italy’s Ansaldo, to build a power plant in Syria, sending its shares sharply higher.

Metka has been expanding abroad, taking advantage of growing demand in southeast Europe and the Middle East for upgrades of power facilities as rising energy prices force developing countries to become more efficient. “This project is the biggest in Metka’s history,” the company said in a statement. „Our backlog is now strengthened.” Metka reported revenue of €284 million last year and net profit of €37 million. The Metka-led venture made the lowest bid to build a 700MW natural gas powered energy plant for Syria’s Ministry of Electricity.

Ansaldo Energia, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica, will provide the power equipment as part of the deal. Metka shares climbed 12.7% to €13.66 in afternoon trade on the Athens bourse after an earlier suspension was lifted. The construction unit of mining and energy group Mytilineos, which earlier this year won a power plant contract in Romania, has sought to expand beyond the Greek market and analysts expect it will clinch more deals in the region.

“This is a very important development for the company as it doubles its backlog,” said Euroxx Securities analyst Costas Tsigourakos. „Metka was targeting a backlog of €1-1.5 billion by year’s end, so they’ve already reached it.” Metka has a construction backlog of €1.3 billion with this project, of which €900 million is for contracts abroad. The Metka-Ansaldo consortium prevailed over a joint bid by Germany’s Siemens and Aste. The project is scheduled to be completed within 36 months after the signing of the contract, Metka said. Metka shares have lost about 21% so far this year, compared with the Athens general index’s 37% drop. (Reuters)