BHP To Bid For Brazilian Hydro Projects

BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, is among thirty two companies planning to bid today for concessions to build and run power plants in Brazil.

Winning bidders are expected to invest 3.5 billion ($1.2 billion) by 2008 to build eight hydroelectric plants in five Brazilian states, said the country's electricity regulator Aneel in a statement. The concessions to run the plants are for thirty five years, the agency said.

The auction, scheduled at 10 am. (9 am New York time) tomorrow on the Rio de Janeiro Stock Exchange, is part of a government plan to boost electricity supply in South America's largest economy, which ended nine months of power rationing in early March. Brazil needs to invest at least $2.5 billion a year to meet growing demand for energy, said Marcos Severine, a power utility analyst at Banco BBA Creditanstalt SA in Sao Paulo.

Other bidders include Belgium's Tractebel SA, Alcoa Inc.'s Brazilian unit Alcoa Aluminio SA and Canada's Alcan Inc., Aneel said. The companies are planning to invest in their own generators to prevent their energy costs from rising as the government plans to end controls on electricity rates in coming years, Severine said.


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