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Italy’s Enel in talks to sell Brazilian power distributor for $2bn

Italy’s Enel SpA is in talks to sell its Brazilian power distributor company Celg-D in a deal that may reach $2 billion, four sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Celg-D distributes power in the Brazilian centre-west state of Goias and serves 3.27 million customers.

The sources said companies interested in acquiring Celg-D include Brazilian rivals CPFL Energia, controlled by State Grid Corporation of China, Neoenergia, controlled by Spain’s Iberdrola and EDP Energias do Brasil, in which Portugal’s EDP is the largest shareholder.

Other suitors of Celg-D, valued at around 10 billion reais ($2.14 billion) including debt, are Brazilian rivals Energisa and Equatorial Energia, according to the sources. Celg-D’s equity value is around 5 billion reais.

Enel and Energisa declined to comment. CPFL, EDP Energias do Brasil and Equatorial did not reply to requests for comment. After initially declining to comment, Neoenergia said it is not interested in the asset.

Itau Unibanco Holding’s investment banking unit is advising Enel. Enel shares rose 1.9 percent on Monday after the report on the sale.

Enel paid 2.1 billion reais to acquire Celg-D from Brazil’s Goias state and federal power holding company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras, known as Eletrobras, in a privatisation auction in 2016. In 2020, Goias Governor Ronaldo Caiado criticised Enel for the quality of Celg-D’s service.

Celg-D is among the worst Brazilian power distributors in quality of service, according to rankings published by Brazilian power regulator Aneel. Last year, the company was the third worst among 29 companies.

Enel owns in Brazil four power distribution companies in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Ceara and Goias, serving 18 million customers.

EDP Brasil could have large synergies if it acquired Celg-D. The company last year acquired transmission company Celg-T for 2 billion reais in a privatization auction. EDP Brasil CEO João Marques da Cruz told investors last week the company would consider bids for power distributors on sale.