* Sees 2012 EBITDA of at least 16.5 bln euros
* Working on further 1 bln euros asset sales
* 9-month EBITDA tops forecast range of 12.3-12.4 bln euros
* Declines to provide 2013 guidance (Adds management comment, shares)
By Stephen Jewkes
MILAN, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Enel, Italy’s biggest utility, has confirmed its full-year guidance, saying emerging markets were helping offset weakness in its recession-hit home market that was expected to persist next year.
Enel, which owns 92 percent of Spanish utility Endesa , is faced with falling power prices from weak demand in Italy and increasing competition from solar power generators.
It confirmed guidance for the full year thanks to growth in eastern European, Russian and Latin American markets.
Europe’s No. 2 utility in terms of installed capacity is targeting core earnings of 16.5 billion euros ($21 billion) for the year.
“The 16.5 billion euros is the minimum we expect,” Chief Finance Officer Luigi Ferraris told analysts on a conference call.
Ferraris confirmed that debt, which at the end of September stood at 46.45 billion euros, would be down at around 43 billion euros by the year end.
Enel, Europe’s most indebted utility, has tabled disposals to help it lower its pile of debt and earlier this year cut its dividend payout policy.
“We still have a further 1 billion euros of asset sales to go. We are working on that,” Ferraris said. He added investments this year would be some 300-500 million euros less than originally forecast.
Europe’s indebted utilities have faced higher costs to refinance debt this year as the euro zone crisis cranked up the cost, especially in peripheral Europe.
Moody’s cut Enel’s rating to Baa2 from Baa1 earlier this month to reflect increased challenges in its core markets of Italy and Spain.
Asked about the plans under way for a capital increase at Chile-based energy company Enersis, Ferraris said there was full agreement with minority shareholders on the deal being strategic.
“It seems to me things are getting better ... Consensus is there (on the deal being strategic),” Ferraris told analysts.
Earlier this month Enersis, controlled by Endesa, scaled back plans for the controversial capital increase and will now seek to raise up to a quarter less than initially planned.
Opposition from minority shareholders, especially Chile’s private pension funds, prompted the regulator to step in and impose conditions on the deal.
“Latin America is strategic, one of the few parts of the world seeing growth. (After the capital hike) Enersis will have the means to support additional growth,” he said.
Enel, which declined to provide guidance for 2013, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 12.8 billion euros in the first nine months.
Enel shares closed down 0.22 percent while the European sector was down 1.85 percent. ($1 = 0.7867 euro) (Reporting By Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Dan Lalor and Marguerita Choy)