3 October 2002 – A proposal to combine the utility networks of oil and gas group Eni and electricity group Enel is being considered by the Italian government, according to a report in the business daily Il Sole 24 Ore Thursday.
The proposal was put forward by Bruno Tabacci, chairman of the industry committee in the chamber of deputies, and would ensure an important stake was left in government hands.
Tabacci proposed spinning off Terna electricity transmission network from Enel and merging it with gas network Snam Rete Gas, a unit of Eni, “thus creating a single company to manage the network with maximum allowed stakes for Eni and Enel.”
“This way we could avoid a sell-off, keeping it in Italian hands in a period when it is good to be vigilant,” Tabacci said.
According to the latest budget, the government must maintain at least 30 per cent stakes in the company or companies that manage the networks, the newspaper said. Tabacci said Eni and Enel could maintain up to 15 per cent in the combined network. The state owns 68 per cent of Enel and 30 per cent of Eni.
According to a bill that still needs parliamentary approval, Eni and Enel must limit their stakes in the companies that manage the networks to 10 percent within three years once the bill becomes law.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said that the government was considering selling further stakes in the utility groups to raise money to pay of government debt, although other government officials have played down the comments.