UPDATE 2-Brazil's regulator favors market solution to Abengoa crisis

viernes 26 de febrero de 2016 18:00 GYT

(Adds Rufino comments on tariff increases and transmission debts)

By Leonardo Goy

BRASILIA Feb 26 (Reuters) - The head of Brazil's electricity regulator, Romeu Rufino, told Reuters on Friday he favors allowing troubled Spanish multinational Abengoa SA to sell its power concessions in the country but does not rule out taking them back if the company cannot find a buyer.

Rufino, who has headed the regulator, known as Aneel, since 2013, said the government would give buyers a new timeframe to deliver the transmission lines that had been under construction by Abengoa.

Brazilian media reported earlier this month that the government was considering intervening in the indebted energy company after it failed to pay 375 million reais ($93.76 million) it owed to investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA.

Abengoa, which is on the brink of becoming Spain's largest ever bankruptcy, does not even have enough cash to pay wages in February, its chairman told employees on Friday.

In Brazil, Abengoa operates seven transmission lines and is building nine others, including one that will link the massive 11,233-megawatt Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the lower Amazon state of Para with the national grid.

Abengoa's gross corporate debt was around 9 billion euros ($9.9 billion) in November, but it swells to about 25 billion euros when project financing and what it owes to suppliers is included.