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EDF’s Proglio Says Italy ‘Strategic’ After Selling in Germany

Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, will retain its Italian investments after announcing the sale of a stake in a German utility.

“There is no reason for the Italian situation to become more tense,” Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio said during a conference call today to discuss the German disposal. “Italy is a country where we have a strategic dimension and I don’t see why we would pull out.”

Proglio declined to comment on whether the French utility is seeking to raise its stake in Edison SpA, Italy’s second-largest power producer.

EDF announced today the sale of its 45 percent stake in EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG for 4.7 billion euros ($6.2 billion). Proglio said the move wasn’t a signal that the French utility wants to focus on fewer countries following an expansion drive into the U.K. and the U.S.

“We are very present in southern Europe notably through our stake in Edison which is evolving,” Proglio said. “We will talk about that in the future.”

The structure of Edison’s shareholding is “very different” to and “more complicated” than EnBW, Proglio said.

Paris-based EDF and A2A jointly control Milan-based Edison through an agreement that expires in September 2011 and must be renewed six months before. The two sides have differed on A2A’s request to play a bigger role in managing Edison, as well as A2A’s effort to create a second nuclear venture.

Proglio has said he wants Europe’s largest utility to expand in Italy, where it has an agreement with Enel SpA to develop nuclear reactors. Regional Italian power producers have merged to acquire the financial muscle necessary to invest in a new generation of plants. A2A has suggested taking part in a nuclear venture to rival EDF’s with Enel.

Edison operates 68 hydroelectric and 27 coal and gas plants in Italy. A2A owns 51 percent of the holding company Delmi Spa, which jointly owns Transalpina di Energia Srl with EDF. Transalpina has 61.2 percent of Edison.

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