* Enel targeting 42 bln euro of debt at end 2013
* CFO confirms asset sales of 6 bln euros by end 2014
* CFO expects to complete Russian asset sale by year end (Recasts lead, adds management comments, shares)
MILAN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest utility Enel is confident it can beat its debt target for this year thanks to an asset sales programme that is targeting 6 billion euros ($8 billion) by the end of 2014.
Enel, Europe’s most indebted utility, is seeking to sell assets to help strengthen its balance sheet and hang on to its investment grade credit ratings.
Completed and planned asset disposals as well as hybrid bonds issued this year should enable the group to improve on its year-end debt target of 42 billion euros, Enel CEO Fulvio Conti said in a statement on nine-month results on Thursday.
“I am confident we will reach the 6 billion euro (asset sale) target by the end of 2014,” Enel CFO Luigi Ferraris told analysts in a conference call.
Enel, Europe’s No. 2 utility in terms of installed capcity, has booked around 1.4 billion euros in asset sales so far, including a 1.3 billion euro deal to sell its stake in Russia’s biggest private gas firm, SeverEnergia, to Rosneft.
Ferraris said he expected to cash in a capital gain of one billion euros from the Russian deal which he said would close before the end of the year.
Russia’s Novatek recently said it still hoped to buy the stake in SeverEnergia earmarked for Rosneft.
Bankers have said Enel could consider selling its 66 percent stake in Slovakian nuclear plant Slovenske Elektrarne, which they say is worth around 3 billion euros.
Utilities across Europe have turned to asset sales as low demand for electricity from the economic crisis and growing use of renewable energy bite into operating margins.
In July, Standard & Poor’s cut Enel’s rating to BBB, citing weakening economic and industry prospects.
State-controlled Enel, which owns Spanish utility Endesa , is also targeting cost savings of around 4 billion euros to 2017 to help it combat debt.
Earlier on Thursday France’s EDF said it had increased 2013 cost-cutting targets to 1.2 billion euros.
Enel said in the first nine months core earnings fell 4.3 percent to 12.187 billion euros, citing lower power sales. It confirmed its full-year targets for core earnings and net profit.
France’s GDF Suez and German market leader E.ON release results on Nov. 13, and Germany’s RWE on Nov. 14. ($1 = 0.7472 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Anthony Barker)