January 28, 2019 / 11:12 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. utility Sempra plans sale of South American operations

(Adds details on units, CEO quote, background)

Jan 28 (Reuters) - Sempra Energy plans to sell its South American operations as it increases investments at its dominant North American business, the U.S. utility said on Monday.

Sempra will sell its fully-owned Chilean subsidiary Chilquinta Energia, the country’s third biggest electric utility, and an 83.6 percent stake in Luz del Sur, Peru’s biggest electric company.

Its ownership in two other energy services companies based in Chile and Peru would also be sold, Sempra said, without providing any financial details of the sales.

“We have set a clear strategic goal of becoming North America’s premier energy infrastructure company,” Sempra Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Martin said in a statement.

“This planned sale allows us more focused capital investment in the U.S. and Mexico to support additional growth opportunities,” he added.

Sempra had come under pressure last year from activist investors Elliott Management and Bluescape Resources, which had pushed for sweeping changes at the company, including the sale of international business lines and the addition of new directors to the board.

In September the utility reached an agreement with the investors and promised to add two board members and review its liquefied natural gas business.

Funds affiliated with Elliott and Bluescape owned a combined 4.9 percent stake in Sempra valued at $1.6 billion, the company said at the time.

Neither Elliott nor Bluescape immediately responded to requests for comment on Monday.

San Diego-headquartered Sempra said it expects the sales to be completed by the end of the year. (Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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