* Proposes div of 0.50 euro/shr for 2017 after suspension
* 2017 adj EBITDA up for the first time since 2010
* Forecasts adj EBITDA of more than 3 bln euros by 2025 (Changes dateline, recasts, adds fresh CEO comment)
By Christoph Steitz
STUTTGART, Germany, March 22 (Reuters) - German utility EnBW defended its strategy to remain an integrated energy group focused on renewables and power and gas networks on Thursday, saying its decision to resist the break-ups of larger peers E.ON and RWE was paying off.
RWE and E.ON unveiled plans last week to break up and share renewables, networks and retail group Innogy, the largest restructuring in the country’s energy market since Germany decided to phase out nuclear power.
RWE will focus on energy generation, while E.ON will become a pure networks and retail player in Europe. At EnBW, all these businesses co-exist under one roof.
“Whether it is possible to gain a foothold in tomorrow’s energy world with a different strategic approach remains to be proven in the next years,” EnBW Chief Executive Frank Mastiaux told journalists at the group’s annual press conference.
“We have set out our strategy in 2013 and have not changed it one iota....and because this has worked we will continue with it in the exact same manner,” he said.
Although not a clear indicator due to its limited free float, EnBW’s shares have outperformed E.ON and RWE since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, which triggered Germany’s switch from nuclear to renewables.
EnBW’s shares have still lost 37 percent since then, but RWE’s have lost 59 percent and E.ON is down 56 percent.
EnBW said it would propose a dividend of 0.50 euros ($0.62) per share for 2017 after suspending payouts in 2016, adding core earnings had grown for the first time in seven years as the group continues its expansion into renewables.
Like larger peers E.ON and RWE, Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 caused EnBW to draw up a new strategy.
Its plan has now paid off, EnBW said, adding adjusted core earnings (EBITDA) grew 9 percent to 2.11 billion euros in 2017, the first time profit had increased since 2010.
The company also laid out its target post 2025, saying it expected adjusted EBITDA to rise to more than 3 billion euros by then, and flagging it could also exceed its target of 2.4 billion it has set for 2020. ($1 = 0.8096 euros) (Editing by David Evans and Elaine Hardcastle)