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Bankers propose Italy's Treasury sells part of Eni stake, sources say

Published Nov 10, 2023 15:44
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Italian multinational energy company Eni is displayed at their booth during the LNG 2023 energy trade show in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
 
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By Francesca Landini and Giuseppe Fonte

MILAN (Reuters) - Several investment banks have approached Italy's Treasury with offers to help it sell part of its stake in Eni, saying the group's current share buyback will allow Rome to reduce its holding without losing full control, sources said on Friday.

Italy aims to raise some 20 billion euros ($21.34 billion) from asset disposals through 2026 to slightly reduce the euro zone's second-largest debt pile as a proportion of gross domestic product.

Bankers have told the Treasury in recent weeks it should take advantage of Eni's stated plan to buy back and cancel 275 million of its shares to reduce its stake, three sources familiar with the matter said.

The option however is not top of the list for the Treasury, one of the sources added.

Italy currently owns around 32.4% stake in the energy group, chiefly through the 27.7% it holds indirectly via state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) as the Treasury has a small direct 4.7% stake.

Announced in May, Eni's share buyback is underway and is expected to increase the government's total stake to just above 34% of voting shares.

Once completed, the Treasury could potentially sell enough shares for Italy to remain slightly over 30% of Eni's capital when factoring in CDP's stake, another source said.

At current market prices, 4% of Eni is worth around 2 billion euros ($2.14 billion). Eni declined to comment.

Speaking in parliament on Friday, Treasury Undersecretary Lucia Albano said any sale would be carried out while ensuring state control over strategic assets.

Eni's share buyback is expected to end before April 2024 after the group said last month it would speed up the programme launched to reward investors.

Besides bailed-out bank Monte dei Paschi (MPS), for which there are privatisation commitments with European Union authorities, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti suggested last month Rome could sell stakes in the state-owned railway Ferrovie dello Stato and its motorway network.

With the state owning 64.26% directly and indirectly via CDP, Poste Italiane is also tipped to be included in the sell-off plan, the sources said.

($1 = 0.9366 euros)

Bankers propose Italy's Treasury sells part of Eni stake, sources say
 

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