September 7, 2018 / 3:59 PM / 14 days ago

Enel talking to single buyer for Russian power plant, to close by year end

CERNOBBIO,Italy (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest utility Enel is talking to a single buyer for its Russian power plant Reftinskaya and expects to wrap up the deal by the end of the year, the chief executive said on Friday.

“(The deal) is close to the end. We have chosen a single buyer,” Francesco Starace said on the sidelines of a conference.

In May sources said Enel was in advanced talks with Russian businessman Andrey Melnichenko over the sale of the coal-fired plant.

Enel decided to sell Reftinskaya in 2016 and had hired Sberbank as an adviser.

Europe’s largest utility is phasing out its coal-fired power plant portfolio as it focuses on grids, renewable energy and retail business to drive growth, especially in emerging markets.

Enel, one of the world’s biggest green energy companies, develops renewable energy projects and sells them on if it can find better yields elsewhere.

The company has a 50 percent stake in a solar power joint venture in Italy with infrastructure fund F2i, which sources have said could be worth more than 1.5 billion euros.

Starace said Enel was interested in a proposal made by F2i to buy Enel’s stake in the venture.

The CEO said Enel was not interested in bidding for a portfolio of solar power assets being sold by Glennmont Partners.

In July sources said more than 10 bidders had made indicative offers for the Glennmont assets, including F2i.

Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, part of the ruling coalition with the far-right League, has said it wants to phase out fossil fuels by 2050 by ramping up renewable energy production.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by David Evans

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