August 2, 2018 / 8:24 AM / a year ago

Shares in Italian utility Ascopiave give up gains after F2i confirms interest

MILAN, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Shares in Italy’s Ascopiave on Thursday gave up some of the gains it made on Wednesday after infrastructure fund F2i confirmed reports it was interested in investing in the regional utility.

F2i, which controls Italy’s second-biggest gas distributor 2i Rete Gas, said late on Wednesday it had sent a letter to the shareholders and managers of Ascopiave’s parent Asco Holding laying out its plans.

The fund, partly owned by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, said it wanted to strengthen Asopiave’s gas distribution business through a tie-up with 2i Rete Gas.

It also said it wanted to reposition the Veneto utility in the retail business of selling electricity and gas.

“F2i believes the industrial strengthening of Ascopiave can also help favour and stimulate a process of integration among energy players in the Veneto area,” it said.

Italy has more than 1,000 utilities controlled by cities and regions and previous governments have tried for years to get them to consolidate to make them more efficient.

F2i, which gave no details on any possible price, said its expression of interest depended on Asco Holding shareholders agreeing to the operation.

Ascopiave, which is 61.6 percent owned by Asco Holding, has a current market value of 832 million euros ($967 million).

Asco Holding is controlled by a series of local municipalities in the Veneto region of Italy.

At 0744 GMT, Ascopiave shares were down 7.5 percent after ending Wednesday trade up more than 11 percent. ($1 = 0.8603 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by David Evans)

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