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GDF Suez increases share in Brazil's 3,750-MW Jirau hydropower plant

An additional US$1.17 billion loan from the Brazilian Development Bank will increase the total project debt available to GDF Suez for the 3,750-MW Jirau hydropower project to $4.66 billion, has learned.

The Jirau hydroelectric plant, located on the Madeira River in western Brazil, is part of a complex that also consists of the 3,150-MW Santo Antonio project.

GDF Suez, a member of the consortium developing the Madeira complex, also says it has acquired an additional 9.9% equity holding in the Jirau plant from its principal civil contractor, Camargo Correa.

The cost to GDF Suez was not disclosed, although the company says the price will be based on Camargo's adjusted equity contributions to date. The deal is subject to regulatory approval but is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

The Jirau plant is being expanded from the original concession of 44 units to 50 units.

Camargo's exit from the project was expected, however, as GDF Suez says Camargo had always planned on selling its shares late in the construction process.

GDF Suez's acquisition gives the company a 60% interest in the Jirau project.

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