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Enel to sell €5 billion of its assets including renewable projects

In Europe, Italy’s largest utility Enel has put in place a five-year plan to increase its profits and dividends by focusing investments in smaller power projects, renewable energy and smart grids.

Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel, said last week that part of Enel’s plan to boost profits is to sell off assets worth up to €5 billion.

Reuters reports that the utility is in talks with Slovak power generator Slovenske Elektrarne to sell a 66% stake in its assets to the Eastern European company.

While Enel is also close to selling US renewable assets, €2 billion of its planned asset sales would be in Europe, says Starace.

Investment in emerging markets

In a bid to increase its financial viability, Enel plans to invest more than half of  €18 billion ($19 billion) in emerging markets such as Latin America and Africa and doubling capacity at its green power division.

Enel, which is Europe’s second-largest utility by installed capacity, said it would focus on a larger number of smaller projects rather than investing in ageing power plants to curb risk.

Mr Starace commented: “We have decided to reduce capacity in Italy and will close plants taking off about 13, 000 megawatts of capacity.”

“We might do something similar elsewhere,” he commented.

Enel raises dividends

Weak electricity demand in a sluggish European economy, low wholesale power prices, and escalated demand for clean, renewable power has meant that utilities such as E.ON (Germany) are reporting sizeable write downs, on the back of 2014 results, the news agency reports.

Enel raised its 2014 dividend, and committed to raise its payout to 65% of earnings from the current 40% in 2018. It also offers a minimum dividend per share in in 2015 and 2016 of €0.16 and €0.18 respectively.

Subsequent to the dividend increase, the utility reported that its shares were up 2.3%.

Enel said its expects a net profit of €3 billion in 2015, after having suffered a 84% fall in 2014 net earnings – down to €517 due to hefty writedowns in Italy and Slovakia.

It added that profits are expected to rise by 10% annually to 2019.