UPDATE 1-RWE plans UK wind farm stake sale to fund more green energy - sources

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FRANKFURT, Aug 12 (Reuters) - RWE aims to sell a minority stake in British offshore wind farm Humber Gateway, as the German utility seeks to release cash for expansion in renewable energy, two people familiar with the matter said.

Morgan Stanley plans to launch the deal, which could value the asset at more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion), after the summer break, the people said, asking not to be named.

Infrastructure and pension funds as well as insurers were expected to show interest, they added.

RWE and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Utilities, including RWE, are investing in renewable assets to reduce their carbon footprint, but they often bring in minority investors for wind farms once they are operating to allow them to focus on new projects.

RWE, Europe’s third-largest renewable player and the global No.2 in offshore wind, aims to grow green energy capacity to more than 13 gigawatts (GW) by 2022, from roughly 9 GW now, and plans to invest a net 1.5 billion euros annually to do so.

Earlier this month, the group agreed to buy most of the project development pipeline of German wind turbine maker Nordex for 403 million euros.

Danish utility Orsted, the world’s largest operator of offshore wind farms, has also begun marketing stakes in its offshore wind farms Gode Wind 3 (242 MW) and Borkum Riffgrund 3 (900 MW), people familiar with that process said.

Orsted’s Chief Executive Henrik Poulsen told investors in a call discussing second-quarter earnings that the company continues to see strong investor demand for its wind farms.

The company declined to comment on its plans for Gode Wind and Borkum Riffgrund.

Humber Gateway (219 MW) its among the assets RWE, Germany’s largest electricity producer, inherited as part of its asset swap with German peer E.ON. Under the deal, RWE acquired the renewable assets of both E.ON and former subsidiary Innogy.

$1 = 0.8497 euros Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Christoph Steitz; additional reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; editing by Thomas Seythal and Barbara Lewis