UPDATE 1-Gaztransport flotation "a question of days" away -GDF

Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:51am EST

* GDF Suez owns 40 percent of GTT

* Total and Hellman & Friedman own the rest

* More upbeat on European gas sector prospects (Adds quotes on IPO and European gas sector)

By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Gaztransport & Technigaz's (GTT) flotation is imminent, a top executive at co-owner GDF Suez told Reuters on Thursday.

"It is a question of days," Jean-Francois Cirelli, vice-president and chairman of the French power company, said in an interview on the margins of an oil conference.

GDF Suez owns 40 percent in GTT, which manufactures cryogenic membranes for tanker ships transporting liquefied natural gas. France's Total and equity fund Hellman & Friedman jointly own the remaining 60 percent.

Cirelli declined to give a more precise date for the IPO's launch but said it would happen "very rapidly". He declined to say how much a possible valuation for the company would be.

"It is a very nice asset, a very well positioned company in a very important and crucial segment of the gas value chain," he said.

In May Cirelli, who is also president of Eurogas, a group representing the European gas industry, said the sector was in a "disastrous" state with cheap imported U.S. coal replacing gas to generate power.

The situation has improved since then, he said on Thursday. "There has been some improvement ... first of all with the awareness of the different stakeholders and particularly the policy-makers," he said.

Cirelli's boss at GDF Suez, Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet, and other gas executives had met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to put across their views, he said. (Editing by Terje Solsvik and Louise Ireland)