Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

Engie Said to Plan Over $1 Billion Sale of Asian Coal Plants

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Engie, the French utility giant formerly known as GDF Suez SA, plans to sell more than $1 billion of stakes in Asian coal-fired power plants, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The company has reached out to potential buyers for its

40.5 percent holding in PT Paiton Energy, Indonesia’s largest independent power producer, the people said. It is also planning a sale of its controlling stake in the smaller Meenakshi plant in India, the people said, asking not to be identified as the process is private.

Engie, a sponsor of the Paris climate-change talks later this year, has shut gas plants and capped coal-fired installations as Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet steers the company toward renewable energy sources. The French government, which owns about a third of Engie, wants to “reorient” state-backed companies toward cleaner fuels, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said in May.

Shares of Engie fell 1.1 percent to 17.165 euros at 12:06 p.m. Tuesday in Paris, bringing this year’s decline to 12 percent. A representative for Engie declined to comment.

Renewable Energy Push

The Paiton Energy venture has 2,045 megawatts of power generation in operation in Indonesia, Engie’s website shows. Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co., Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Indonesia’s PT Batu Hitam Perkasa own the remaining stakes.

Engie owns 74 percent of the Meenakshi power project in southern India, which has 300 megawatts of operational capacity and another 700 megawatts under construction, according to the December 2013 announcement of its investment. Indian developer Meenakshi Group owns the remaining stake.

The French energy company also has a presence in Australia, Singapore and Thailand. It’s looking to enter other Asian markets such as China, Mongolia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, it said in a March brochure posted on its website.

Since rebranding itself this year, Engie has pledged to accelerate its move into renewable energy. It generates about a fifth of its electricity from coal plants and doubled its usage of the fuel between 2008 and 2014, company figures show.

Mestrallet said in June that Engie won’t be involved in a new coal plant in South Africa. That apparent shift in policy comes after he defended the use of coal by countries like South Africa at a shareholders’ meeting the month before.

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