* E.ON to post 9-mth net loss of at least 5 bln eur-sources
* Would be biggest ever loss since group’s creation in 2000
* E.ON to publish nine-month results on Wednesday
* Expects “mid-single-digit billion euro” loss in 2015
* Shares fall 2.2 pct (Recasts, adds details on impairments, updates shares)
By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff
FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Germany’s largest utility E.ON will post the biggest net loss in its history when it presents results on Wednesday, three people familiar with the situation told Reuters, hit by massive writedowns on its power plants and oil and gas business.
E.ON, along with its German peers, has been reeling from a prolonged industry crisis that has seen wholesale power prices plunge and coal- and gas-fired power plants replaced by solar and wind energy.
Impairment charges of about 8 billion euros ($8.6 billion) on E.ON’s German generation business as well as its oil and gas unit will push its net loss to at least 5 billion euros for the first nine months of the year, the sources said, the biggest ever loss for the group.
E.ON warned in September it would post a full-year net loss that would be a “mid-single-digit billion-euro” figure due to big writedowns, which analysts were expecting in the third quarter. But it didn’t give details, such as in which parts of the business it would book the impairments.
“E.ON is pulling its skeletons out of the closet,” one of the people said. “The impairments have been long overdue.”
The source added assets had plunged in value following years of falling wholesale power prices that have pushed many power plants into the red.
E.ON declined to comment and referred to the release of the nine-month results, which are scheduled for Wednesday. Analysts on average expect that core earnings have declined by a fifth in the period.
The net loss, the second in as many years, comes after E.ON had to backtrack on a plan to spin off its German nuclear plants next year, bowing to political pressure to retain liability for billions of euros of costs to dismantle them.
It would be the biggest loss since E.ON was formed by the merger of German power groups VEBA and VIAG in 2000.
Shares in E.ON were down 2.2 percent at 1100 GMT, with some traders noting the net loss should have no impact on the company’s plans to pay a 0.50 euros per share dividend for 2015.
“Please have in mind that E.ON calculates its dividend on the recurrent (earnings after tax) basis that is not affected by the impairments,” a Frankfurt-based trader said.
E.ON’s dividend is paid out of the group’s underlying net income, which is forecast to come in at 1.4-1.8 billion in 2015.