Enel’s CEO, Francesco Starace says Italy’s largest utility is considering shifting its focus away from Europe altogether, preferring the growing market of Latin America.

With Europe still not emerging from recession, Rome-based Enel is looking at increasing its spending in Latin America from its existing target of $8.7bn over the next five years.

“The growth is here,” Starace told reporters at Enersis’s headquarters in Santiago. “I don’t think we are going to invest much more in Europe.”
Economic growth in Latin America, where Enersis already serves 14.5 million clients, will quicken to 2.3 per cent next year while European economies will expand by 1.6 per cent, according to the average estimate of economists tracked by Bloomberg.

Enersis SA, the company’s Latin American unit will drive the investment. Meanwhile Enel Green Power SpA has budgeted 2.1 billion euros of investments in the region to 2020.

The Italian company’s main European preoccupations at the moment centre around sales of assets. It is looking to sell 4.4 billion euros of assets including units in Romania and Slovakia after it completed a 1.3 billion-euro sale of a stake in SeverEnergia to OAO Rosneft in 2013.

It is also closing the sale of a 17 per cent stake in Spain’s Endesa SA and earlier this year boosted its ownership of Enersis through the purchase of a 60.6 percent stake in the Santiago-listed company held by Endesa.

A reorganization of its Chile and Brazil units will be completed by the first half of next year and its Colombia and Peru units by the end of 2015, Starace said, with Chile especially prominent in its thinking. Enel will spend 2 billion euros in the South American country over the next five years, he said.