PARIS (Reuters) - French utility Engie (ENGIE.PA) is considering selling businesses including industrial and nuclear plant maintenance specialist Endel, as it tries to recentre on its most profitable activities, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Engie, which is yet to replace ousted Chief Executive Isabelle Kocher, had already outlined plans several months ago to exit some markets and cut back in areas such as energy services. The coronavirus crisis has since hit this division particularly hard, and Engie said earlier this week it was stepping up efforts to reshape the group.
In total, Engie’s disposal plans could affect 15,000 people employed in the units under review, according to the sources and France’s CGT union. Of those, 9,000 would be in France, the union added.
Engie declined to comment on specific asset sales and said the job figures evoked by the CGT did not correspond to any concrete plans it was working on.
“It’s too premature to envisage how many workers might be affected,” Engie said, adding that in any case asset sales would not necessarily lead to job losses.
Engie had 171,000 employees globally at the end of 2019, and more than 77,000 in France.
Endel, which employs 7,000 people and is a contractor to the likes of EDF (EDF.PA), is the biggest Engie unit potentially on the block, one of the sources said.
Endel’s nuclear activities might however remain within Engie, the second source added.
The disposals under consideration would be equivalent to between 1.2 billion and 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion) in revenue altogether, representing between 2% and 3% of Engie’s total sales, French newspaper Les Echos reported on Wednesday.
Engie, which provides electricity and gas power, is envisaging withdrawing from several countries in Africa, Europe and Asia as part of its plans to exit more than 25 markets, the first source added.
Engie’s board voted not to award Kocher, the only female boss of a blue-chip French company, a second mandate in February following internal disagreements over strategy and asset sales.
Reporting by Benjamin Mallet, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Kirsten Donovan