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ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Italy's Enel (ENEI.MI) has mandated Sberbank (SBER.MM) to arrange the sale of its Reftinskaya coal power plant in Russia and hopes to do the deal in 2017, Enel Chief Executive Francesco Starace said.
Starace, who was attending the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum, also told Reuters his company had decided to stay in Russia and expand in the renewable business.
Enel is one of several foreign firms which bought into the Russian power sector in the last decade when the state monopoly was broken up.
"We have ... restarted the process of divesting from power plant Reftinskaya. Sberbank is managing the sale. We hope that we will conclude it (the sale) by the end of the year," Starace said in an interview.
"I think there will be probably interest from Russian companies, we had interest from Russian companies before. I don't expect this would change a lot," he said on the sidelines of the forum.
Two financial market sources told Reuters in November that Russian state power company InterRAO (IRAO.MM) and China Huadian Corporation were interested in buying Enel Russia (ENRU.MM), the Russian power generation unit of Enel.
Enel owns a 56.4 percent stake in Enel Russia, which controls four power stations.
"We decided not to exit Russia. In fact, we decided to remain and grow in the renewable business," Starace said. "We never really had an intention to sell, we were stimulated by buyers who wanted to buy."
"This is a changing moment for us in Russia," Starace said.
Additional reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova in Moscow and Steven Jewkes in Milan; Writing by Maria Kiselyova and Katya Golubkova; Editing by Alexander Winning and Edmund Blair