* Q2 op loss 323 mln euros vs year-ago 188 mln profit
* Writes down more than 1 bln euros of assets
* CEO says cannot rule out further writedowns
* Shares up 0.2 percent
(Adds CEO comments, shares)
By Georgina Prodhan
VIENNA, July 31 Austrian hydropower company
Verbund AG fell to a second-quarter operating loss on
large writedowns and said it could not rule out further
impairment charges due to upheaval in electricity markets.
Verbund made an operating loss of 323 million euros ($428
million) against a profit of 188 million a year earlier as it
struggled to compete with heavily subsidised renewable energy
The company wrote down more than 1 billion euros worth of
assets in the quarter to cover the falling value of gas plants
in Austria and France, renewable energy projects, a minority
interest in Italian energy group Sorgenia and other interests.
"I cannot 100 percent rule out further writedowns," Chief
Executive Wolfgang Anzengruber told a news conference after the
company told shareholders economic conditions had deteriorated
even further in the second quarter.
The written-down assets now have a total book value of 484
million euros, of which 200 million are for gas power plants,
whose future Anzengruber said the company would decide by the
Traditional European utilities struggling to compete with
heavily subsidised renewable energy sources have begun selling
assets amid weak demand from manufacturers and plunging
wholesale prices, especially in Germany.
German utility RWE has launched a savings
programme to cope with loss-making plants and low wholesale
power prices, while smaller rival EnBW's core profit fell in the
first half for the same reasons.
Under political pressure, Verbund also said it would become
Austria's first energy provider to pass on lower wholesale
prices to private customers with a 10 percent price cut, and
hoped to win new clients with the new offer.
Verbund's Austrian private customer business accounts for
between 5 and 6 percent of the company's total sales of 3.17
billion euros in 2012.
Revenue rose 9 percent in the second quarter to 788 million
euros, thanks to good water supply that allowed it to produce
more electricity, beating the average estimate of 772 million
euros in a Reuters poll.
Verbund stuck to its 2013 earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) forecast of at least 1.15
billion euros and a dividend of 1 euro per share, thanks to
proceeds from an asset swap with Germany's E.ON.
Shares in the company rose 0.2 percent to 15.12 euros by
0901 GMT, against a flat European utilities index.
($1 = 0.7547 euros)
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mark Potter and