Enel unloads gas subsidiary stake

The Italian energy group has sold an 80% stake in Enel Rete Gas for €480m to a consortium including F2i and AXA Private Equity. The sale will help reduce Enel Group’s debt by over €1.2bn.

Italian energy group Enel has reached an agreement to sell 80 percent of the share capital in Enel Rete Gas to a consortium of financial investors.

The purchasing group, comprising Italian-focused infrastructure investment fund F2i and Paris-based AXA Private Equity, is to pay €480 million for the stake. The consideration will be paid in two tranches of €240 million, each comprising €170 million of bidders’ equity and a €70 million vendor loan granted by Enel.

The sale is set to reduce Enel’s consolidated net financial debt by more than €1.2 billion, after taking into account the deconsolidation of Enel Rete Gas’ debt.

Enel Rete Gas holds a 12 percent market share of the natural gas distribution market in Italy, generating €307 million of revenue last year. The seller said the sale price corresponds to Enel Rete Gas’ Regulated Asset Base.

F2i chief executive Vito Gamberale and AXA Private Equity head of infrastructure Mathias Burghardt said of the deal: “This transaction alongside Enel is a perfect evidence of F2i and Axa Private Equity’s strategy to take part in the development of energy distribution networks and of networks in general, in Italy and Europe. The investment requirements in this sector are massive and this transaction is a very good example of successful cooperation between long term financial investors and industrial operators”.

The transaction is still subject to approval by the Antitrust Authority and Regulatory Authority, as well as the signing of a financing agreement between Enel Rete gas and a group of banks. The sale is set to conclude during the summer.