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WSJ: GDF Suez Plans To Sell Stakes In European Wind, Solar Energy Businesses

French utility GDF Suez SA (GDFZY.PK,GDSZF.PK) plans to raise at least 600 million euros, or $784 million, by selling stakes in some of its European wind and solar energy businesses, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

According to the WSJ report, GDF Suez is likely to start tapping potential financial investors interested in buying up to 60 percent of some of its wind and solar energy businesses in France and other countries. However, the company will retain a 40 percent stake in the roughly 1,000 megawatts of production capacity and also remain industrial operator of the businesses valued at about 1 billion euros.

GDF Suez, which is 36.7 percent owned by the French government, is seeking to reduce its debt of 34 billion euros. The objective of the new GDF Suez asset optimization program for the period 2013-2014 amounts to 11 billion euros.

In mid-January 2013, GDF Suez and German uility E.ON AG (EONGY.PK) said they have agreed to sell a joint 49 percent stake in Slovakian energy company Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel a.s. or SPP to Czech energy company Energetický a Prumyslový Holding. The deal consideration for each company's 24.5 percent stake is 1.3 billion euros or about $1.7 billion.

At that time, GDF Suez noted that the sale will reduce its debt by some 1.3 billion euros and represent an important milestone in its ongoing transformation following the completion of the International Power transaction. The company's debt burden increased in 2012 when it acquired shares that it did not already own in UK-based International Power.

In December 2012, GDF Suez agreed to sell 60 percent stake in its 680 MW Canadian renewable generation portfolio. The company also said it would dispose a majority stake in its Italian wind energy subsidiary, IP Maestrale, to ERG SpA.

In Paris, GDF Suez shares closed trading at 15.06 euros, up 0.09 euros or 0.57 percent on a volume of 4.34 million shares.

by RTT Staff Writer

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