EnBW Installs EON’s Mastiaux to Spearhead Clean-Energy Expansion

EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG, the German utility most dependent on nuclear power, installed EON AG’s former climate chief Frank Mastiaux at the helm as it seeks to more than double renewable-energy capacity by 2020.

“Our company is under high pressure,” financially and strategically, Mastiaux said today in Karlsruhe after succeeding Hans-Peter Villis as chief executive officer. EnBW has a “clear commitment to more renewables,” and doesn’t rule out expanding its 1.5 billion-euro ($1.9 billion) asset-sale program, he said.

Mastiaux faces pressure to divest assets and cut costs as profit is eroded by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to exit nuclear energy by 2022. Karlsruhe-based EnBW, which counted on reactors for more than half its output before the ruling, lost two of its four atomic plants in the first wave of shutdowns, which contributed to an 867.3 million-euro net loss last year.

Mastiaux, 48, led EON’s Climate & Renewables unit until 2010, when he moved to its international energy division. At EnBW, he inherits a 10 billion-euro plan to add 3,000 megawatts of renewables in Germany by 2020, compared with 1,239 megawatts at the end of 2011, while maintaining the dividend to satisfy its joint-largest owner, the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Baden-Wuerttemberg relies on its dividend from the utility to pay annual interest of 110 million euros on a bond that financed its 4.7 billion-euro purchase of a 45 percent stake in EnBW from Electricite de France SA in December 2010.

EnBW’s divestments include the 2011 sale of its Polish assets back to EDF for 301 million euros. While an expansion of the disposal program is possible, a sale of energy grids is a “very strategic question” that Mastiaux would need to analyze carefully, he said. Villis said in January that EnBW may be open to a sale of its electricity network, Reuters reported at the time.

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