* Debt standstill agreement depends on cash injection-source
* Source says creditor banks sent letter to Verbund
* Says banks looking for a buyer of Verbund's 46-pct stake
(Recasts lead, adds sources)
By Georgina Prodhan and Stephen Jewkes
VIENNA/MILAN, Feb 3 Austria's Verbund
has rejected its partly owned Sorgenia unit's call for funds,
jeopardising the chances that talks with creditor banks on a
debt standstill will succeed.
The loss-making Italian energy company, controlled by
holding company CIR, is trying to negotiate freezing
repayments on almost 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of debt
"We have no intention of injecting more capital," a
spokeswoman for state-controlled Verbund said on Monday.
In December, Sorgenia, whose gas-fired power business has
been hit by falling demand during the economic crisis, said it
had presented a new business plan to its banks, asking them to
start a debt restructuring process.
The plan includes the sale of Sorgenia's renewable power
assets in Italy and France as well as its exploration and
State-controlled Verbund has written down its stake to zero.
"Verbund has tried to sell its stake in the past without any
luck. The banks are now looking for potential buyers and there
have been some expressions of interest from continental Europe,"
a source close to the banks said.
A second banking source said, "Verbund doesn't even want to
sit at the negotiating table and this is complicating matters
for the banks who have sent a letter to the Austrians."
The second source said the banks were on the whole ready to
give a green light to the standstill agreement if the Sorgenia
shareholders injected capital.
Sorgenia owes money to about 20 Italian and foreign banks.
Its main creditor is troubled Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
. Other creditor banks include Intesa Sanpaolo
, UniCredit and Mediobanca.
The first banking source said the banks did not have a
common approach to Sorgenia's debt, noting that Monte Paschi had
not revoked its credit lines but others had.
($1 = 0.7415 euros)
(Editing by Louise Ireland and Francesca Landini)