* EDF backs RTE grid development plan - CFO
* Search progressing for partners on British nuclear plants
By Benjamin Mallet
PARIS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Electricite de France (EDF) is under no pressure to sell assets and supports a development plan for its electricity transport unit RTE, its chief financial officer said on Friday.
Thomas Piquemal also said state-owned EDF was making progress in its search for new partners for its nuclear projects in Britain.
Piquemal was speaking after banking sources told Reuters on Thursday EDF was sounding out bankers about a partial sale of RTE, even though the government said it was not planning a sale at the moment.
“We support RTE’s development plan and we are under no pressure to sell assets,” Piquemal told Reuters by phone. “We are not in the habit of commenting on rumours, even less sales pitches and bankers’ ideas.”
Sources said EDF was already quietly talking to advisors with a view to starting work on a deal for RTE, which has an enterprise value of about 12 billion euros (16 billion) including 7 billion of debt.
Asked about the likelihood of an EDF share increase, were EDF to proceed with its plan to build nuclear plants in Britain, Piquemal said: ”In anticipation of the exit of Centrica, we launched a year ago a search for new partners (for these projects).
“This is a search which continues and makes progress and is conducted simultaneously to talks with the British government.”
British utility Centrica pulled out earlier this year from plans to build new nuclear plants with EDF.
EDF said then it planned to start talks with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp about becoming a partner in its UK nuclear building programme.