EDF's UK supply unit for sale

EDF, the world’s largest nuclear power producer, is planning to sell EDF Energy, the biggest power distribution business in Britain, for more than four billion euros (5.8 billion dollars) to help cut debt, the French group announced on Friday.


REUTERS - EDF plans to sell EDF Energy, Britain’s largest power distribution business, for more than 4 billion euros ($5.8 billion) to help cut debt, the French group said on Friday.


The world’s largest nuclear power producer, which has been mulling the sale for months, said it hoped to finalise a deal by the first quarter of next year.


“We regularly receive spontaneous expressions of interest, but there has been nothing formal yet,” Chief Finance Officer Daniel Camus told a conference call.


Bankers and investors say the business is likely to draw joint bids from major infrastructure funds, such as those linked to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, and should also interest the few utilities that are not shedding regulated assets.


Chief Executive Pierre Gadonneix added that EDF was studying other disposals but he would not give any details.


EDF has said it wants to divest 5 billion euros of assets by the end of 2010. Group debt stood at 24.5 billion euros at the end of 2008, up from 16.3 billion a year earlier following the acquisition of British Energy.


The purchase had resulted in a better balance between EDF Energy’s generation and supply businesses, EDF said.


EDF Energy’s network serves more than 20 million people in London, the east and southeast of England. EDF said it had "significant future opportunities from grid and distribution network technologies".


Gadonneix told French members of parliament last month thatEDF would meet its target of divestments worth 5 billion euros by the end of 2010.


Shares in EDF were 1.6 percent lower at 39.01 euros by 0928


GMT, slightly underperforming the French blue-chip CAC 40 index.

Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank are financial advisors to EDF, with "additional support" from BNP Paribas, EDF said.


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