Steve Scherer through

December 05, 2000

Rome, Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) — The Italian Treasury said it will sell at least 10 percent of electricity utility Enel SpA early next year, after selling shares it still holds in oil company Eni SpA and telephone company Telecom Italia SpA.

Treasury Minister Vincenzo Visco said the exact amount of Enel shares to be sold “will be determined nearer the date of the operation, depending on market conditions.” Visco spoke at a press conference. The Treasury owns 68 percent of Enel, Europe’s largest publicly traded electricity utility.

Italy must sell assets to drive down its debt, the highest in the European Union, and meet the budgetary requirements of the single currency.

The government also will sell its remaining 2.64 percent in Telecom Italia, Italy’s dominant phone company, and will divest another 5 percent of Eni, Italy’s largest oil and gas company. Both of those transactions will take place before the sale of a second tranche of Enel.

The government last year sold a third of Enel to investors at 4.30 euros. Visco said Italy is “not opposed in principle to reducing our stake to below 51 percent.”

He also said the government may consider selling stakes in the state companies to potential industrial partners. “We will look into the possibility of selling (the stakes) directly onto the market or to operators who would enter into direct negotiations,” Visco said. He did not elaborate.

Enel shares ended trading today little changed at 4.28 euros. Eni rose 0.038 euro, or 0.6 percent to 6.79 euros.

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