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Healthcare

UPDATE 1-Italian utility Enel does not expect coronavirus capex impact

(Adds comments, background)

MILAN, April 1 (Reuters) - Enel does not expect the coronavirus crisis to have a material impact on its planned 2020 investments, Italy’s biggest utility told Reuters on Wednesday.

Falling energy prices and lockdowns imposed in many countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic has raised doubts over spending plans among Europe’s utilities.

At its last business plan in November, Enel, which is also Europe’s biggest utility, said it would spend 28.7 billion euros ($31.4 billion) to 2022, mostly on grids and clean energy.

It pledged to spend 10.1 billion euros this year.

“The situation is being carefully monitored in the light of potential delays to the capex deployment plans as a consequence of physical constraints to operations or limitations imposed by suspension of construction activities,” it said in an email.

Last month Enel Chief Executive Francesco Starace said its drive to digitalise operations has given it an advantage in coping with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Enel, which controls Spanish utility Endesa, is now in a position to remotely manage all its generation assets and all its renewable fleet.

The state-controlled utility said a strong balance sheet and ample liquidity with a low level of debt maturing between 2020 and 2022 put it in a good position to tackle volatility.

“(That supports) the deployment of the capex plan and dividend commitments,” it said. ($1 = 0.9142 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Alexander Smith)

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