Italian energy group Eni has intensified talks with several investors over a potential sale of a minority stake in its renewables and retail business Plenitude, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.
Two of the sources said that Eni is working on a disposal of between 5% and 15% of Plenitude and could even do a deal before Italy's summer break, which is normally in August.
Plenitude, which last year recorded an adjusted operating profit of 345 million euros, could be valued at more than 6 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in the private transaction, one of the sources said.
Eni declined to comment.
A sale of a small stake in Plenitude would give a value to the business, creating the conditions for a future listing.
Eni had to freeze an initial public offering (IPO) of Plenitude in June 2022 due to adverse market conditions but has not stopped talking with investors over a potential private sale of a stake.
In February, Reuters reported on preliminary talks between Eni and Norway's HitecVision over a potential Plenitude stake sale, which has not materialized.
HitecVision already partners with Plenitude in the Norwegian offshore wind joint venture Vaargroenn, while the Nordic private equity firm is also allied with Eni in Vaar Energi, where it is invested through Point Resources.
A new attempt to list Plenitude could be launched at the end of this year, or, more probably, in 2024, the sources said.
Plenitude generates power from renewables, sells electricity, gas and energy services to households and businesses, and is developing a network of charging points for electric vehicles.
In December Plenitude clinched a deal to buy 100% of wind and solar developer PLT worth more than 1 billion euros, Italian media reported.
($1 = 0.9217 euros)
(Reuters - Reporting by Francesca Landini in Milan, Ron Bousso in London; Editing by Alexander Smith, Kirsten Donovan)