Slovakia intends to acquire a state-owned hydropower facility from Enel’s local utility Slovenske Elektrarne, after the local Bratislava court ruled the lease contract for the plant to be invalid.

The ruling has finally offered a direction to the dispute over the 720MW Gabcikovo hydropower plant between the Italian power firm and the government, which was initiated in 2007, reports The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The European country’s government is looking for €280m to €320m in damages from Enel.

Slovakia’s decision follows Enel’s announcement to sell its 66% stake in the power project, which had been acquired by the firm in 2006 for €840m.

"The Slovakian Government is looking for €280m to €320m in damages from Enel."

The national government owns the remaining 34% stake in the project, and had often been involved in disputes with the Italian company regarding the costs and construction of a new nuclear power station, reports Reuters.

Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico was quoted by WSJ as saying: "We will strongly seek…that Enel returns all money which it earned operating the hydropower plant for eight years on the basis of an invalid contract."

Enel is expected to have generated around €35m to €40m annually for eight years from the management of the facility.

Robert Fico was cited by WSJ as saying that Slovakia intends to nationalise the power plant’s operations.

The ruling is forecasted to take effect immediately after it is delivered to the involved parties. The power firm, however, remains sure about the validity of the contract.

It is expected that the ruling will not affect the sale process of the facility, according to the company officials.