September 18, 2012 / 4:00 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Sovereign funds eying Eni shares in Snam - source

(Adds Eni comment, background)

By Stephen Jewkes and Giancarlo Navach

MILAN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Sovereign funds of Singapore, Qatar and Abu Dhabi are interested in buying part of the shares Italian oil major Eni will sell to exit gas transport group Snam, a source close to the matter said on Tuesday.

“The Singapore fund has shown a very strong interest given that it’s very much a regulated asset investor,” the source said.

In May the government called on state-controlled Eni to sell down its stake in Snam in a move aimed at spurring competition in the domestic gas market and taking a lead in building a European gas transport champion.

Besides the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, the Qatar Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority have expressed interest in Snam, the source said.

Singapore and Abu Dhabi already have stakes in Snam of just under 1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, the source added.

Eni declined to comment.

Eni, which in October is slated to sell just under 30 percent of Snam to state-controlled finance group Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), has said it intends to sell its entire stake in Snam.

CDP, a shareholder of Eni, also has a controlling stake in power grid company Terna.

In July Eni raised 612.5 million euros from the sale of a 5 percent stake in Snam. After its planned stake sale to CDP, Eni will have a 20 percent stake in Snam that it intends to sell.

Snam, Europe’s biggest regulated gas operator, signed an agreement in January with Belgium’s Fluxys to assess joint initiatives to develop gas infrastructure projects and to help create a south European gas hub.

Reporting By Stephen Jewkes and Giancarlo Navach

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