July 26, 2018 / 4:54 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 2-Brazil's Equatorial buys Eletrobras unit Cepisa at auction

(Adds share price, background)

SAO PAULO, July 26 (Reuters) - Brazilian power company Equatorial Energia SA on Thursday won the right to buy power distribution company Cepisa, one of several units of state holding company Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras SA , or Eletrobras, that it has been working to divest in a controversial privatization program.

The operation will cost Equatorial 95 million reais ($25.5 million), including a fee to the Treasury and the effects of an 8.5 percent cut in Cepisa electricity rates, according to industry regulator Aneel and a representative from state development bank BNDES. Under the rules of the auction, Equatorial will also have to invest 720 million reais in Cepisa.

Equatorial, whose shares rose as much as 4.6 percent after it won the auction, was the sole bidder for Cepisa, which operates in the northeastern state of Piauí. The successful bid gives Equatorial a nearly 90 percent stake in Cepisa, the company said in a securities filing.

Eletrobras shares fell sharply after Cepisa, one of the most attractive among the six heavily indebted distributors that the state utility is seeking to sell, drew only one bidder.

Preferred shares in Eletrobras were down 6 percent at 18.99 in late-afternoon trading in Sao Paulo.

The sale of the distribution companies is part of the government’s plan to privatize the company. The plan hit a snag after a Supreme Court ruling in June that all new privatizations must be approved by Congress, putting off the sale of the other five units until Aug. 30.

$1 = 3.72 reais Reporting by Luciano Costa Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Christian Plumb, Marguerita Choy and Richard Chang

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