* EnBW to sell 28.35% stake in EVN to Vienna utility
* Stake changes hands for less than 870 mln euros - source
* EVN’s business is “rock solid” - Wiener Stadtwerke CEO (Recasts with confirmation, info from source)
By Kirsti Knolle and Christoph Steitz
VIENNA/FRANKFURT, March 5 (Reuters) - Vienna utility Wiener Stadtwerke has agreed to buy EnBW’s stake in Austrian energy group EVN, worth around 800 million euros ($894 million), as the German firm sheds assets to free up cash for its renewable push.
EnBW said on Thursday the sale of its 28.35% stake in Wiener Stadtwerke was attractive from an economic standpoint and was in line with its plans to shed assets and put more focus on green energy sources, including onshore and offshore wind.
No purchase price was disclosed for the stake, which was worth about 800 million euros based on EVN’s share price at 1130 GMT. A person familiar with the matter said the stake was sold at a price below 870 million euros.
The deal is subject to German and Austrian antitrust approval.
Wiener Stadtwerke CEO Martin Krajcsir said the purchase of the stake was “an attractive investment opportunity due the rock solid business” of EVN.
Under the deal, Wiener Stadtwerke becomes EVN’s second-largest shareholder after the province of Lower Austria, which holds 51%.
Wiener Stadtwerke, wholly owned by the city of Vienna, made an operating loss of 60 million euros in 2018 after a profit of 79 million the previous year due to falling revenue, partly due to rising raw material costs.
It reported fixed assets worth 12.9 billion euros in its 2018 balance sheet, nearly 70% of which were property, plants and equipment.
“We are glad that in Wiener Stadtwerke we’ve found a buyer with roots in the region and an interest to remain committed long-term,” EnBW finance chief Thomas Kusterer said. “This forms a good basis for the future of EVN.”
EnBW, which is majority owned by the German state of Baden Wuerttemberg, is currently transforming itself into a utility with a heavy focus on renewables while paring back its fossil-fuel based activities.
To fund the shift EnBW is reviewing its portfolio and has also launched a sales process for its stake in regional utility MVV, in cooperation with fellow shareholder RheinEnergie.
EnBW had been a shareholder of EVN since 2002. EVN’s businesses include electricty, natural gas, water and also TV and telecoms networks. ($1 = 0.8958 euros) (Editing by Michelle Martin. Editing by Jane Merriman)