August 24, 2017 / 12:03 PM / a year ago

Profits fall at Dutch energy company Eneco ahead of sale

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Profits fell sharply at the soon-to-be-privatised Dutch energy company Eneco [ENECO.UL] in the first half of 2017, reflecting the loss of its grid operations after a state-mandated separation in February.

A majority of Eneco’s municipal shareholder’s have signaled they intend to sell their shares, but the process by which the sale will take place will only be hammered after all 53 shareholders have made a decision in principle by Oct. 31.

The CEO and labor unions of Eneco, which is the largest remaining Netherlands-headquartered energy producer, have been lobbying for a solution by which the company retains its current management and green energy focus, perhaps by pursuing an initial public offering rather than selling the company outright to a foreign buyer.

The company reported net profit of 96 million euros ($113 million), down from 167 million euros in the same period a year earlier as profits from its grid operations, rebranded as Stedin, fell away.

Eneco said that, stripping out the impact of Stedin, results rose by 25 percent due to acquisitions.

However, that has come at a cost: the company has been on a spending spree this year, investing 269 million euros for purchases including a 50 percent stake in Germany’s Lichtblick and to buy ENI Belgium.

Shareholder equity, or book value, stood at 2.86 billion euros at June 30. Analysts have said the company could be worth more than 3 billion euros in a sale, due to the attractiveness of its renewable energy assets, but less in an IPO scenario.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Mark Potter

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