Eni SpA, Italy’s largest oil producer, is in the early stages of exploring a sale of gas and power retail assets as part of plans to reduce debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
The business, which provides gas and power to households in Italy, could fetch as much as 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion), depending on which exact assets are included in the carve out, said the people, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The Italian company is discussing the potential divestment with advisers and could still decide against a sale, they said.
If Eni goes ahead with the auction, the business could attract private equity firms and utility companies, the people said.
Eni never comments on market speculation on corporate activities, and in this instance, in particular, any speculation would be premature, according to a e-mailed statement from a spokeswoman for the company.
The company has approved raising 2 billion euros in debt and scrapped its dividend and 6-billion-euro stock buyback plan as it looks for ways to conserve cash. Standard & Poor’s said this month that it may cut the debt rating of a number of major oil and gas companies, including Eni, as the industry adjusts to the collapse in oil prices.