March 12, 2014 / 4:21 PM / 4 years ago

Enel says will not cut stakes in Slovakian, Spanish units

PARIS, March 12 (Reuters) - Enel, Italy’s biggest utility which is shedding assets, has no plans to cut its stake in Slovakian power generation company Slovenske Elektrarne or in Spanish utility Endesa, the group’s chief executive said.

Analysts have said Slovenske Elektrarne, which generates electricity from nuclear and fossil fuels, could be one of the assets that go on the block, with its value estimated at 3 billion to 4 billion euros ($4.2-$5.6 billion).

“We have 66 percent, the (Slovakian) government has 33 percent. We are happy with the current shareholdership structure,” Fulvio Conti told Reuters on Wednesday.

Enel is committed to selling 4.4 billion euros of assets this year as it seeks to cut debt and preserve its investment grade credit rating. The sales will focus on units it does not fully control.

“We want to sell assets where we have no consolidation of the assets, which is the equivalent of selling minorities,” Conti said. He declined to indicate in which countries Enel wanted to divest.

The CEO said Enel was definitely not selling its Russian retail company, RusenergosByt, in which it holds a 49 percent stake.

Conti also said Enel would not reduce its 92 percent stake in Spanish unit Endesa, adding it had been ready to buy 100 percent of Endesa when it bid for the firm in 2007.

He told a news conference earlier that Endesa would not be delisted.

Conti, who has been at the helm of Enel since 2005, described himself as a fervent “nuclearist”.

“Nuclear still has its place,” he said.

Conti said Enel’s decision to sell its stake in France’s Flamanville nuclear plant in 2012 was an economic rather than strategic choice.

At the end of 2012, Enel sold its 12.5 percent stake in Flamanville after French state-owned utility EDF said the cost of the project had risen to 8.5 billion euros, nearly three times the original estimate.

“That specific asset was out of the money,” he said, adding that the cost of Flamanville was going above the expected level of return.

Enel, which has nuclear assets in Spain through Endesa, cannot develop nuclear power plants in Italy after a referendum banned nuclear development. ($1 = 0.7212 Euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Alberto Sisto, writing by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Jane Baird)

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