Engie Steps Up Asset Sales to Cut Exposure to Commodity Prices

  • Company to sell thermal-power assets in `mature' countries
  • Engie may divest stake in Belgian nuclear-reactor business

Engie will accelerate asset sales as the French energy company formerly known as GDF Suez SA reduces its exposure to oil and gas prices and unregulated power markets.

“Our strategy is to reduce the share of our activities that are exposed to price fluctuations of commodities and to increase the share of contracted or regulated activities,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet told reporters in Paris Thursday. The goal is to “significantly” reduce exposure to those operations, which already account for less than half Engie’s assets.

The company, based in La Defense near Paris, may sell thermal-power assets in “mature countries” and will look at selling a stake in its Belgian nuclear reactor operations, Mestrallet said. The company will step up spending cuts in oil and gas exploration and production, and may consider reducing its exposure to that unit this year, the CEO said.

Mestrallet, who will be replaced as CEO by his deputy Isabelle Kocher in May, said the return on regulated assets is lower but much safer than unregulated assets, making them more valued by markets.

Mestrallet reiterated that the 2015 profit of Engie, which is expanding in energy-efficiency services and renewables as falling gas prices and overcapacity crimp earnings, will be toward the low end of its target. Engie last year bought French solar park developer SolaireDirect SA and said it won’t develop new projects tied to coal.

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