* CPFL sought data about seized utility Celtins
* Celtins is owned by debt-laden Rede Energia
* J&F is in talks about Celtins: administrator
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, Oct 5 (Reuters) - CPFL Energia , Brazil’s largest private sector electricity distributor, asked for financial and operating information about Celtins, a smaller rival that was recently seized by regulators and could be put up for sale, Celtins’ administrator said on Friday.
Itaú BBA, the investment banking unit of Itaú Unibanco Holding, requested the information at the behest of CPFL, said Isaac Averbuch, the official overseeing the seizure of Celtins. Celtins is controlled by Grupo Rede Energia , which saw eight units taken over by regulators about a month ago.
CPFL also asked for information about other Rede Energia companies, Averbuch said, without giving out details. Currently Celtins is in talks with creditors InterAmerican Development Bank and Banco Santander Brasil to stretch out payment terms on 192 million reais ($95 million), he added.
“We sense there’s willingness on their part,” Averbuch said, referring to Celtins’ creditors. He also said other groups including J&F, an investment holding company owned by the family that controls meatpacker JBS, have shown interest in assets of Rede Energia.
Electricity regulator Aneel seized Celtins on Aug. 31, marking the strongest ever state intervention in the sector to prevent a halt in service in six states. Aneel took over control of Celtins, Cemat, Enersul, CFLO, Caiuá, Bragantina, Vale Paranapanema and Nacional, all of which were suffering from serious financial and operational problems.
Rede Energia’s assets have been considered a takeover target as the government and private companies boost their market share in power distribution, a segment in which bigger scale offsets the risk of lower power rates in coming years. Consolidation is key for the companies, known as DisCos, to gain financial and operating muscle.
CPFL declined to comment. Itaú BBA did not have an immediate comment on the matter. Efforts to reach a spokesperson for Rede Energia were unsuccessful.