December 23, 2015 / 9:38 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-E.ON, RWE beef up balance sheet with Enovos stake sale

* RWE holds 18.36 pct, E.ON 10 pct

* Sources said in February stakes worth total 570 mln euros

* Companies selling assets in response to sector crisis (Recasts, adds details on price, shares, context)

By Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT, Dec 23 (Reuters) - German utilities E.ON and RWE will sell their stakes in Luxembourg-based power firm Enovos International SA, they said, raking in cash to fight a prolonged sector crisis that has triggered major overhauls at both firms.

RWE owns 18.36 percent and E.ON has a stake of 10 percent in Enovos but they did not disclose the sale price. Sources had told Reuters in February the combined stake was worth 570 million euros ($625 million).

Shares in E.ON and RWE, the two worst performing German blue chips this year, were among the biggest gainers in Frankfurt’s benchmark DAX index, up 4.6 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year and marks the latest asset sale by both groups before they split up next year to cope with declining wholesale power prices and a surge in renewables.

Plagued by a combined 54 billion euros in net debt, more than twice their current market valuation, both groups have shed assets in recent years to bolster their weak balance sheets.

The stakes will be acquired by existing Enovos shareholders Luxembourg and private equity firm Ardian.

The state and city of Luxembourg already held a combined 33.44 percent stake in the company, which posted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 212 million euros on sales of 2.58 billion last year.

Ardian owns 23.48 percent, a stake it bought from ArcelorMittal in 2012 for 330 million euros. GDF Suez, recently renamed Engie, and Societe Nationale de Credit et d’Investissement Luxembourg (SNCI) own 4.71 percent and 10.01 percent, respectively. ($1 = 0.9152 euros) (Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Keith Weir)

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