March 21, 2019 / 5:23 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Italy's Enel puts faith in green energy, grids to power growth

(Recasts lead, adds detail, CEO comment)

MILAN, March 21 (Reuters) - Enel, Europe’s biggest utility, pledged to grow its green energy and grids business in Italy and the Americas on Thursday as it reported a rise in profits and dividends and stuck to its targets for 2019.

The Italian state-controlled utility said its net ordinary profit last year rose 9.5 percent to 4.06 billion euros ($4.6 billion), broadly in line with consensus.

Enel, which controls Spanish energy group Endesa, is targeting net ordinary income this year of about 4.8 billion euros and a minimum dividend per share of 0.32 euros.

The company, which gave preliminary results in February , said it would pay a dividend for 2018 of 0.28 euros per share, 18 percent higher than the previous year.

“In 2019 we envisage an acceleration in renewable projects, mainly in North America, with continued investments in grids in Italy and South America,” Enel’s chief executive Francesco Starace said in a statement.

The world’s largest private renewables player has earmarked around 80 percent of a planned 27 billion euro capex programme over the next three years for green operations and grids.

It said 49 percent of its power production last year was emission-free, rising to more than 50 percent if managed generation capacity is included.

Italy’s populist 5-Star Movement, which took office with coalition partner the League last June, has placed green energy and digital technology at the heart of its industrial policy. ($1 = 0.8806 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes Editing by Alexander Smith)

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