MILAN, April 11 Italian energy group Edison has mandated Lazard and Mediobanca to examine the assets Germany's E.ON is seeking to sell in Italy, three financial sources close to the matter said.
"Things are still in a very preliminary phase and still quite a way from any operational process, but there is a mandate to look at it all," one of the sources said on Friday.
E.ON, burdened by more than 30 billion euros ($42 billion) in net debt, is looking to sell assets as it grapples with the impact of a massive expansion of renewable energy capacity, falling wholesale prices and tepid energy demand in Europe.
Sources told Reuters last November E.ON had started preparations for the sale of its Italian business as part of its bid to pull out of weak energy markets in southern Europe. They said Goldman Sachs was the advisor.
But earlier this year people familiar with the matter said the sale faced a delay, blaming a depressed climate for power assets in Europe.
E.ON was initially seeking to sign contracts on the sale, which could fetch about 3 billion euros ($4 billion), in the second quarter, a document seen by Reuters showed.
In April people familiar with the matter said the German utility had hired Citi to advise it on the sale of its assets in Spain.
"They have opened the data room (for the Italian assets) but Edison so far is the only group that has shown any serious interest. E.ON would like to sell the assets all together," a second source said. Edison is owned by EDF of France.
In December Edison Chief Executive Bruno Lescoeur said the Italian assets E.ON is seeking to sell were attractive.
E.ON has around 6 gigawatts of generation capacity in Italy, more than half of which is gas-fired. It also has a stake in a liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast of Tuscany.
Edison, Lazard and Mediobanca declined to comment.
E.ON said it did not comment on market rumours. ($1 = 0.7204 Euros) (Additional reporting by Giancarlo Navach; Editing by David Holmes)