Duesseldorf, Germany — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 16 August 2011 – Germany’s massive E.ON AG Group is considering selling its natural gas transport network as the German government decision to abandon nuclear power is forcing the group to shed assets and jobs.
A company source told Reuters that the group might decide to sell Open Grid Europe, a subsidiary of E.ON’s Ruhrgas unit, which operates a 12,000km network and employs about 1,400 people “’ about 44% of Ruhrgas’s workforce.
“They’ve been put on display in the shop window,” the source said about the Open Grid Europe operations, adding that the process was at a very early stage and there were currently no negotiations.
E.ON “’ which acquired Ruhrgas for US$14.2 billion in 2003 from a group including RWE, Vodafone , ThyssenKrupp , Exxon Mobil , TUI and RAG “’ declined to comment.
The company is under pressure due to Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power, and last week announced an overhaul of its business, including up to 11,000 job cuts.
“Gazprom would be an obvious candidate to buy Open Grid Europe, as the company has been keen to expand its presence in European midstream assets,” UniCredit analysts wrote in a note.
Last year, peer RWE sold its 4,100km German gas grid Thyssengas to Australian investment bank Macquarie for about US$560 million.
German business daily Financial Times Deutschland earlier cited sources close to the company as saying E.ON was looking for a buyer for Ruhrgas’s transport network and would reduce its loss-making gas trading activities.